OH, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD . . . CUT!!!!
Hello, and welcome to Tabby’s Nocturnal Nights. My name is Brenda, and today I would like to talk about cutting. LOL, no, not hair cutting or cutting pictures out of a magazine, but cutting unnecessary words and paragraphs from you manuscript.
The first thing I would like you to do is go through your MS and mark all material that maybe unnecessary. To help you start, first clarify what the main plot is of your story. Look through each chapter and read each paragraph with a critical eye, asking yourself if it had to be cut, would anything essential be lost? If the answer is yes, then maybe each paragraph could be tightened. Words cut.
Another great place where one may find words and sentences to cut is the beginning to every chapter. The opening is most likely longer winded than need be. Can you get to the heart of the chapter faster? Are there redundant words that can be hacked out to tighten your prose? Ask yourself these questions. You will be surprised at how many places you find in your MS that can be slashed or tightened.
Okay, now I would like you to pick up your red pen and go back through your MS again and hunt for redundant information and words.
When writing something you feel is important in your story, it’s only natural to try and drive the importance home to your reader by mentioning the info two, three, even four times. But please remember, your readers aren’t stupid. Chances are they got it the first time.
Check each sentence, paragraph, and yes, even chapters for redundancy. Also check for small redundancies. Things like, shrugging shoulders, nodding his/her head, or blinking his/her eyes. Shrugging implies shoulders, nodding implies head, and blinking implies the eyes. Cut. Cut. CUT!
These simple cuts will help clean up your writing and make your prose sparkle.
Next place to look is your transitions. In an effort to make a transition flow, some writers add more than is needed. A simple—to the point—transition is usually best.
Slash all extra verbiage. Look for hedge words and qualifiers. Examples: really, just, kind of, sort of, rather, very, and somehow.
Watch your adverb use. Ask yourself if they are totally needed. Chances are they can be cut.
Watch your use of adjectives. Example: Her long, reddish-brown, curly hair hung down her back.
Pick only what is necessary: Her curly brown hair hung down her back.
I took out long because it isn’t needed. The sentence showed her hair as being long by saying it hung down her back.
A great way to learn how to make every word count and to learn how to cut what is not needed is to write short stories with a specific word count.
Challenge yourself today. Write a story with a word count of 2000.