Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Snip-Snip-Trim! :-) Word Count-Bringin' it Down

I have a book due soon and am in the process of hacking four thousand words from it because, as usual, I'm over the word count parameters.

Then I remembered I had to post today. LOL!
So I started making notes as I went along. I'll pull examples from my books that will show ways I was able to drastically trim the text (2300 words in a couple hours) without having to strip threads from the book.

Some people figure the number of pages they have then do the math to see how many sentences per page they need to cut to get within publisher parameters. Sometimes I do that, but this time, I just started chopping.

I cut half the word count by simplifying sentences and cutting every unnecessary word.

Reason I'm posting this is because I know I can't be the only over-writer out there. LOL! Hopefully this will help you other wordy-birds to see ways you can trim text and salvage threads.

Examples of stuff I did:

=============================
Nolan grinned impishly with the giddiness of victory.
BECAME: The imp grinned with giddy victory.
--------
He held back
BECAME: He refrained
--------
She’d jump off the bridge before she would stoop to letting him know how badly he’d rattled her.
BECAME: She’d jump off the bridge before she’d let him know how badly he’d rattled her.
On second pass BECAME: She’d jump off the bridge before she’d broadcast how badly he’d rattled her.

(An example of how one stronger word can replace several weaker ones.) "Broadcast" replaced "let him know" which replaced "stooped to letting him know".
--------
Mooch ran past them across the room and started jumping up against the laundry room door over and over.
BECAME: Mooch bounded past and body slammed the door. Repeatedly. (Mooch is a dog by the way. LOL!)
--------
He stood to his feet. (Uh...as opposed to what? Standing to his elbows?)
BECAME: He stood.
--------
She lifted her arms in the air. (As opposed to where..the ground? LOL!)
Became: She lifted her arms.
Then Became: Her arms rose.
--------
Tears ran from her eyes and down her cheeks. (Or did they run from the room?) Sorry, couldn't resist. :-p
BECAME: Tears erupted.
--------
Nolan unfolded his arms and strode in looking very much like a warrior on a lethal mission.
BECAME: Arms unfolded, Nolan tanked in.

(Plus it gives us a stronger image. Warriors don't stroll. They march. Sneak. tank. Stronger, more defining word. Certainly didn't waltz)
--------
She always used to rub her arms when she’d get nervous or anxious about something.
BECAME: She always rubbed her arms when anxious.
--------
I also omitted nearly every nearly and just cut every just and slayed every so and trimmed every that that I could.

You can almost always nix every:
Nearly
That
So

There are lots of other disposable words.

Feel free to list ones I haven't in the comments so folks will know.
------
Another thing I did was use one strong word in place of two, three or even four weaker ones of the same meaning where I could. It not only shaved word count, it made the writing punchier.

Examples:

She lowered herself to the chair.
BECAME: She sat.
--
Long-held images came rushing back into his mind.
BECAME: Memories surged.
--
"I don't have any idea, Mandy."
BECAME: "No idea."

(See? You can even do this in dialogue to help differentiate characters' voices. Nolan tends to talk no-nonsense, short and clipped. Mandy tends to talk more formal-flowery and in more descriptive sentences.

=====================================

Thank goodness there's diversity in writing because we don't all have the same taste. But what do you do when you're over your word count or an editor or agent asks you to tighten up the writing? What does that mean to you?

Two easy ways are: cut wordiness and omit every unnecessary word. Be brutal! :-)


Those were a few random examples I culled out of a first draft chapter. These are just (<--unnecessary word) simply (<--nix that too!) examples of how you can bring word count down by simplifying sentences. You don't want your work to read like a drone or a robot though so it's good to vary sentence structure.


Now, time to share your trimming secrets. Please comment away.


Cheryl Wyatt



By the way . . . there are some banana bars on the counter. Hope you will help yourself to some.....and be sure to remember to keep your writing as tight as possible......

OR should that "just" be:

Banana bars are on the counter. Help yourself. And Pssst...Write Tight! :-)

70 comments:

Janet Dean said...

Thanks for the post on cutting word count, Cheryl! And for the banana bars. Yummy!

Like you, I snip pet words and tighten sentences. I also trim word count by slicing and dicing introspection. I love being in the hero and heroine's head, but tend to be repetitive. So I go back and look at those passages and trim.

Hope you're having a productive day chopping away!

Janet

Chicki said...

Cheryl,

This is exactly what I needed today. I'm revising a manuscript for submission and need to cut at least eight pages without changing the story.

Thanks!

Chicki Brown

Tina M. Russo said...

Great post Cheryl. I have a favorite book on the topic...Write Tight by William Brohaugh. Excellent stuff. I keep a list of WATCH words like your nearly that I go back and look for when editing.

going, it, but, and, just, only, that , would

But boy, you've given me more ideas. Thanks.

Ann said...

I'm working on a one-sheet and needed those examples. Trying to boil my epic down is tying me in knots.

On the other hand, boiling turns 40 gallons of water with a few sugar molecules into maple syrup, a lot tastier than sap! Surely cutting adn tightening is a good thing.

Here's some coffee, half & half and Splenda to go with the banana bars.

Jessica said...

I love to snip words. :-) My first finished manuscript had to have 10,000 off because LIH changed their guidelines on the word count while I was writing it. I never knew until I finished and then checked their guidelines on the web. So then I had to erase entire scenes and tightened the writing.
Great post, Cheryl. And thanks for the examples. That really helps.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Great post Cheryl. Cutting those excess words is so important. I had a manuscript once that an editor liked, but their word count was 20,000 words less than the manuscript I had written. Can you imagine cutting that much? But I was totally amazed at what a difference it made in my manuscript. It was so much tighter and better. Taught me a BIG lesson about getting rid of those wordy pages. (And don't say it Ruthy. I know you kept telling me to do that.) smile

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Janet, I am having that overintrospect/repetition problem right now. It's so hard when I've been immersed in a story for days to be able to know if a passage is something I've already read once before in the WIP or if I read it in an earlier pass and am just remembering it. LOL! Great thoughts and I'm in the throes of dicing introspection out now. LOL!

Hugs,

Cheryl

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Chicki,

I'm glad you found it helpful. I actually love the revision process and trimming...

But it's SO much easier for me to trim other people's words than my own. LOL!

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts with us!

Best of luck on trimming your 8 pages. You can do it! :-) And I bet it'll turn out great.

Hugs,

Cheryl

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Tina...I hadn't heard of that book before. I definitely have put it on my To Be Bought list. Sounds really helpful. Wish I'd of had it several stories ago. LOL!

Thanks for adding those extra words to the watch list. LOL! Err...should I say Hit List. LOL!

Don't know why but I have a habit of starting out SO many sentences with "So,". LOL!

Hugs,

Cheryl

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Ann...that is a FABULOUS analogy.

Best of luck getting it down. If your writing is anything like your example in the comments then you don't have anything to worry about. :-)

Thanks for dropping by and sharing your great thoughts.

Hugs,

Cheryl

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Jessica,

I had that same situation after I sold my first two books to Steeple Hill. The word count changed and I had to shave close to 5K on both books after revisions and during line edits.

It helps when they're paying you to cut it though. LOL! Makes deleting easier. Not that they paid extra for all that cutting, but I had already received my advance. LOL!

The experience was really valuable thought because it taught me how to write lean and tight and where I could take words without taking the meaning.

Hugs,

Cheryl

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Sandra,

Yes I can imagine cutting 20k because, embarrassingly, my "cut" files are usually as large as my MS file in word count. LOL! In fact, right now, my "CUT" file for A Soldier's Reunion is MORE than my MS file. LOL! I write a scene then find something to hate about it.

I have SO much introspect in the story. I'm going to send them bowling instead of sitting around thinking. LOL. I didn't realize the characters were thinking so much more than doing. So reformatting scenes will help. I have the hero and heroine in scenes not with each other that I need to go trim...but I'll be back later to comment some more.

Hugs and thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts everyone!

Hugs,
Cheryl

LauraLee Shaw said...

I tend to be wordy, so this is excellent reading and training for me. Thank you!

Cheryl Wyatt said...

You're welcome, Lauralee! We have that wordiness in common. LOL!

Thanks for dropping by. I'm glad you found it helpful.

Hugs,

Cheryl

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Another good thing to do if you're desperate to drop words is see how many "ly" adverbs you can get away with cutting.

I'm doing that right now because I used more than I usually do. Usually I put less than 10 the entire ms. Sigh. LOL!

Cheryl...back to my WIP but I'll check in periodically.

Patty Wysong said...

I love that Hit List! I've added them to mine! ;) Thanks!

Scarlet Carter(S.Harricharan) said...

Wow! Loved this! I'm always writing over the word count, then agonizing over the words to slice and dice.

Faves of mine that I always try to omit.

"And"
"Then"
"That"

Great stuff, thanks for sharing!

Gina Welborn said...

Couple month-ishs my agent ask me to cut my Victorian down so she could send it to Steeple Hill. I said, "Sure, it's only 15k."

17,532. To. Be. Exact.

After I quit staring blandly at the monitor, I knew the easiest thing to cut was the quasi-villain's POV. His first scene was a simple cut. The next ones weren't, so I switched them to the POV of whatever lead was in the scene. And tightened the scene. The biggest impact was near the end of Act 2. By having that scene now in the hero's POV, the reader understood his emotional change from the previous scene of optimisim (all is going according to plans) to grief/guilt (even if I achieve my goal, I won't have the freedom from guilt I am seeking).

My goal was to cut one page per chapter. Usually that worked, but I can think of at least one chapter when all I cut was a dozen or so words.

During my process, Ruthy suggested cutting entire scenes or chapters. I tried. By the time I finished, I'd only cut one scene: the quasi-villain's first POV scene. 80% of my 17,532 cut words came from tightening dialogue and narrative. Mostly dialogue.

My hero is a Yes/No guy.

My heroine is Certainly/Certainly Not gal. I don't think she ever says yes or no.

What's amazing is that with my cuts, I actually added words. Including a funnier ending to an argument between the leads.

A couple nights ago I was judging a inspy contest entry. A couple times I wrote on the entry, "What is the point of this scene?"

If nothing happens in the scene to esculate tension or add conflict to a lead's goal (although the conflict may not be immediate, like in the case of a villain doing something), then the scene is pointless.

Easy cutting tips.

1) If the last page of the chapter has 10 or less lines on the page, go back through the chapter until you can shorten it by those lines. End at the bottom of a page.

2) If a line has 3 or less words on it, tighten. For example,

Look at Janet's first post. She said said:
Hope you're having a productive day chopping away!

Why waste a line to say "away!"?

Have a productive day chopping away!

3) When all else fails, ask someone to help.

Gina Welborn said...

Oh, I forgot something.

One of the benefits to coordinating a contest is one gets to read the scoresheets. With the TBL, the finalists get scoresheets back from 5 published authors. Last week, I read over the scoresheet from all 7 of my short contemporary and long contemporary finalists. Fascinating stuff.

One author said beginning a sentence with a conjunction is okay, but try to avoid it. Doing so will make your sentence stronger.

Hmm.

Well, I figured I ought to "test" her advice. Come to find out, she's right. Most of the time, not having the conjunction is better.

Look for it was/there was/there were phrases. They tend to weaken your narrative because the subject of your sentence is it/there and verb was/were. Boring.

Okay:
There were six banana bars left on the plate.

Better:
Six banana bars lingered on the plate.

Best:
Gina ate the six remaining banana bars, leaving crumbs on the plate. Delicious!

Gina Welborn said...

Yes, I'm wordy today. I'm making up for not chatting last week. :-)

Have you "listened" to your narrative? Do it because you may find places to tighten.

Let's use what Sandra said as our example. (I didn't pre-count, so I don't know if this is going to be an example of good or bad rhythm. Thanks, Sandra, for volunteering.)

Great post Cheryl.3 Cutting those excess words is so important.7 I had a manuscript once that an editor liked, but their word count was 20,000 words less than the manuscript I had written.23 Can you imagine cutting that much?6 But I was totally amazed at what a difference it made in my manuscript.14 It was so much tighter and better.7 Taught me a BIG lesson about getting rid of those wordy pages.12 (And don't say it Ruthy.5 I know you kept telling me to do that.)9 smile1

Notice she had some nice words per sentence variety. Love the 23-word sentence then following it up with the 6-word one. Nice contrast.

Too many close words-per-sentences (WPS) in a row will add a choppy sound.

Mix up WPS length. Don't have them all be even numbers (4,8,6) or odd numbers (5,9,3), but a variety (4, 9,3 or 5,8,2).

Same goes with lines (lines, not sentences) per paragraph. Look at Janet's first post. 3, 5, 2, 1. Nice visual and auditory variety.

Now if you looked at sentences per paragraph, she has 3, 4, 1, 1. Nice visual and auditory variety.

How you begin a sentence also adds to the rhythm of your narrative. In a recent contest entry I judged, the entrant LOVED -ing phrases. She began and ended sentences with them over and over again. Ended up, her narrative had a sing-songy sound.

Beginning too many sentences in a row with nouns can add a clip-cloppy sound.

Fragments? Lovely. But overusage.... Can I curse in Seekerville? Season your narrative with them at the right time and with the right amount.

I mention this because when we get to cutting, we forget how cuts can wound the "sound" of our narrative. Folks will rant and rave about protecting their voice in regards to not listing to critiques or judge comments, yet they don't realize the greatest potential enemy to "voice" is cutting and tightening.

Okay, my daughter is drinking imaginary soda and eating imaginary breakfast/lunch. I really ought to go to the grocery store.

Pamela S Thibodeaux said...

Love it, love it, love it LOL!!

I know that may be 'over expressing' but couldn't resist.

Unfortunately (or not) I've had to add words, not cut but sometimes that can be just as difficult LOL!

GREAT POST!
PamT

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Patty, glad you liked the Hit List. You look familiar. Do we know each other? LOL! I'm from So. Ill too. (I checked out your Patterings blog...LOVE IT!).

Thanks for stopping by!

Cheryl

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Scarlet,

I'm a "then" offender too. LOL!

Thanks for coming by. Love your name BTW!

Hugs,

Cheryl

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Gina,

As usually, your comment gave me the smile for the day.

Great advice on self-editing/tightening too! Thanks so much for contributing.

Hey, if you're headed to the store, get stuff for more banana bars. We can make 'em right here.

Wink.

Hugs,

Cheryl

Inspire said...

Great post, Cheryl. My recent NIP (novel in progress) had a first draft of 130,000 words. I just finished the final revision and brought it down to 99,000.

It is amazing how much you can bring the count down by deleting unnecessary words.

that
and
plenty
completely
many
small
truly
big
So
Also
Much
Then
there
was
very
little
really
especially
generally
usually
frequently
often
nearly
almost

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Pamela,

I wish I had that problem. LOL! I always aim to come in at the low end of my word count. Never happens. LOL!

Makes me love Ane's analogy all the more. LOL!

Thanks for coming by!

Hugs,
Cheryl

Joanne Sher said...

Excellent stuff! I generally take out "thats" and try to eliminate adjectives by using stronger verbs. And worst case, I hyphenate EVERYTHING (LOL kidding, of course! well - mostly hehe)

I-really-like-your-blog-and-will-be-back. (see - one word!!) ;)
Thanks :)

Cheryl Wyatt said...

NIP! THANK YOU for that awesome list!

Where've you been all my life? LOL!

Thanks so much for dropping by our party here. Gina polished off the last banana bar but she's headed to the store for more.

Tea's on the counter by the stack of cut words we've shaved off today.

Hugs,

Cheryl

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Joanne,

LOL on the hyphenated word thing. I make up words all the time. Even change nouns into verbs.

EEK...this thread has me paranoid. I'm checking my comments to see if I've overwritten. Probably have. LOLOL! Anyone else doing that?

He!

This is fun.

Joanne, definitely don't be a stranger. We enjoyed having you here.

Hugs,

Cheryl

Patty Wysong said...

Cheryl, I have NO idea if we know eachother! LoL I'm near Rend Lake, in the middle of corn fields, in the middle of NOwhere! ;) Next you're around, stop in! I'd love an excuse to make (and eat!) some choc. chip cookies! LoL (and thanks for swinging by Patterings...I've had fun over there. *grin*)

I'm learning great gobs of stuff here! (how's that for a phrase? *eye roll*) Please keep talking, ladies, because I have a lot to learn! Thanks!

Cheryl Wyatt said...

I DID IT AGAIN! LOL!


He eyed her carefully, his expression staying he didn’t buy that.

BECAME:

His careful expression said he didn't buy that.

Okay, obviously procrastinating...

Back to the WIP..and the word WHIP.

Hugs,

Cheryl

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Oh-my-gosh, Patty! We're practically neighbors. I don't wanna say where I live on this public place but suffice it to say last summer, we hit Rend Lake every weekend with the jet ski every weekend we here home. (Count that sentence, Gina! LOL!)

E-mail me at anavim4him{@}gmail.com Remove Brackets and close spaces.

Once I am able to drive again we must get together. (I'm recovering currently from a wreck that totalled my car, foot and ankle. LOL!)

Hugs,
Cheryl

Cheryl Wyatt said...

And yes, I know there's no "t" in saying. LOL!

I'm a terrible proofreader by computer monitor anyway. Did I mention my glasses were destroyed by the airbag?

HEY! Another way to cut words...change passive to active phrasing.

Did I mention the airbag destroyed my glasses? Better? LOL!

Off to work....be back later.

Cheryl

Cheryl Wyatt said...

...and yes I did that "every weekend every weekend" in the same paragraph just to annoy Ruthy who knows how dangerous I am with "Cut and Paste".

Step a-w-a-yyyy from the keys, ma'am.....

Seriously, back to work....

You guys are too much fun. Or maybe I'm just having fun with myself. :-p

Cheryl

Cat Schield said...

What a great discussion. I learned much. (I'm afraid to say more.)

Cat

Janet Dean said...

Gina, great list of ways to cut. I'm barely bleeding. ;-)

Yea! Cheryl found a new friend.

Great fun in Seekerville today. Except where's the food? Where's Ruthy?

Janet

Erica Vetsch said...

I love to axe extraneous prepositional phrases. My first draft is rife with them.

My favorite way to cull a ms is to look for the weakest, most boring scene and take it right out. If there is any info that absolutely needs to be in the story, I find a way to trickle it into another scene.

Also, I find on a first draft, I tend to make my hero too wordy. Men are usually bordering on cryptic with their speech. I can often pare the hero's words down to 'just the facts, ma'am' which gives me a stronger characterization and makes the dialogue between characters sound more natural.

:)

Thanks for the great tips, Cheryl.

Gina Welborn said...

I bought bananas, sugar, and unbleached flour for the banana bars Cheryl is making.

Only between my two youngest, we may have to do with unflavored bars. Eeks. Unless we want raisin bars. Blech. Better, thoough, than coconut bars.

Between the socks and SpongeBob sippy cup, I didn't buy much else.

Sometimes shopping alone is better than with kids. At least I didn't b
uy Little Pony panties.

I found one of my lists from when I was cutting my Victorian.

First I listed page number I was on, then the total ms word count.

294/77835
300/77296
310/76793
314/75984
329/75699
341/74944

The largest bulk of my cuts actually came from the first 1/3 of the manuscript. Mainly unneeded backstory. The middle 1/3 was full of wordy dialogue and characters thinking something then saying it. Duh.

Gina Welborn said...

I need to go clean house and make dinner for hubby and oldest daughter.

So in case I don't get back...

Thanks, Cheryl, for posting on this topic. When my agent asked me to par my Victorian down to 75K, I actually thought she had lost her marbles. Even if she doesn't sell the ms to Steeple Hill, I'm glad I did the cuts because the process taught me a lot about writing tight and made my story better. Plus now I have 10-15K more words I can add in new scenes. :-)

Whoever said every manuscript can be cut 10% and be better...well, s/he is probably right.

Case in point: the library book I need to return.

Anita Mae said...

Wonderful post, Cheryl.

My problem is that I know what I want to say, but can't think of that one word to replace the 2 or 3.

Or, I'll read a para, tighten it, then find the next para has sort of the same phrasing/cadence, so now I have to change that one, too.

Yes, I know it's always better at the end.

So, whoever can tighten this post for brevity with clarity wins Cheryl's next book.

Just kidding.

Did I get ya Cheryl, huh, huh?

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Cat, I know what you mean. LOL! I'm totally paranoid. But hey, this is my post so I've officially deemed this area of Seekerville a "No Edit Zone". LOL!

Thanks so much for dropping by and commenting. Come back often.

Hugs,

Cheryl

Cheryl Wyatt said...

I know, Janet...I'm wondering about Ruthy myself. Mary and Julie are at the CBA trade show...ICRS I think it's called.

And...here are more banana bars. What did everyone else bring?

Hugs,

Cheryl

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Erica,

I watch my husband talk, amazed how he can say so much with so little. LOL! And of course, he probably thinks I say so little with so much. LOL!

Glad you came by. I'm seeing your name pop up again and again on finalist lists. Woo-hoo!

That's how this Seeker group formed. You should start a group with the gals/guys you're finaling with now. Call yourselves Seekers-Two. LOL! Just kidding. Sorta...

Seekers has been a great support and the friendships that have grown out of it are a tremendous blessing.

Keep up the good work, girl!
Hugs,

Cheryl

Cheryl Wyatt said...

GINA'S BACK! YAY!

ROFL on the library book. I laughed earlier about your child eating the imaginary food...too funny.

Too bad mom lit's not in right now. You'd have it in the bag.

Whoops...gotta haul those bars out of the oven...

Hugs,

Cheryl

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Anita Mae,

There is a Flip Dictionary I think that works in a reverse manner from the regular dictionary. It might be helpful.

I LOVE Dictionary.com

You might be able to type in your few words in it and it might give you a better word. Try it and see.

LOL about the book...if I had one coming out soon, I'd give one away in a heartbeat. I don't have another release until April, 2009 though and I'm afraid I'd forget to send 'em a book. LOL!

Thank you for coming by my friend!


Hugs,

Cheryl

Melanie Dickerson said...

I can always find words that need to be cut, but instead of being wordy, I tend to have the opposite problem. I tend to rush scenes, especially as I get toward the end, or in an especially tense situation. So I've been expanding and expounding, per my agent's specifications. And it's just as hard if not harder than cutting! At least I think so, especially since I'll still need to go through and cut unnecessary words from the stuff I've added!

Whew. I'm tired just thinking about it.

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Melanie,

I would love to be able to come in under my word count. LOL! But, I think you're right..I'll bet it would be harder than cutting.

Thanks for coming by and commenting!

Hugs,
Cheryl

Missy Tippens said...

Great examples, Cheryl! I'm right there with you on writing too long. The book I'm revising now ended up being 9000 words over when I finished the first draft! The last 2000 were really hard to cut.

I just got through my revisions and found it added 600 words (and I was already at the max). So now I'm having to shave off a little more.

(sigh) So much to say, so little words to say it in! :)

Missy

Missy Tippens said...

Gina, I agree that cutting can change voice. I've started reading dialogue out loud while I'm revising. Mainly because I found places where there's too much back and forth in the dialogue without tags or action. The back and forth gets tiring after a few lines.

I'm amazed at your sentence counting and even/odd stuff. I've never thought to analyze my writing so closely! Maybe I should try it. :)

Missy

Ausjenny said...

I enjoyed the post. it reminds me of a past pastor and his wife who was doing study. She would write long sentences to fill out the words and her hubby would shorten them. She use to give answers like The beautiful black and White cat which looks very fluffy is sitting on the welcome mat the front door (she used even more words.) and we would say oh you man the cat is at the front door.

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Missy, I'm glad I'm not alone in my over-writing. I still keep thinking of Ane's post about the boiling down and the result though. I LOVE IT!

Jenny, I know what you mean! Nowadays guys mostly grunt a one word answer wheras we try to give a discertationi for the same. LOL!

Thanks for dropping by ladies.

Cheryl--heading over to Debby's post now....and hope you'll join me.

Patricia W. said...

No examples to offer but thanks so much for the workshop on cutting words.

Just what a newbie writer needs to remember that the finished draft is over very different than the original version, even for published authors.

Kimberli said...

I'm jumping in late, but I have to say thanks for the great post. I forwarded it to a few others.

Now to peruse the comments for more nuggets....

Patty Wysong said...

'kay, newbie question here. From the comments it sounded like you guys keep your 'cuttings' just in case. Is it the longer portions (paragraphs) you keep or even just misc. sentences you lop out?

Thanks!

Ausjenny said...

Ok Cheryl who swallowed a dictionary.
I am going to have to look up discertationi now.
when writing or jounaling I tend to use few words but use more when speaking.
my big announcement for the day

ME COLD!

Sharon A. Lavy said...

I have the opposite problem. I finish the story with two few words. When I edit I try to add words but usually find as many to delete.

But writing IS rewriting, one way or the other!

Missy Tippens said...

Patty,

I usually save any cuts I make (like whole scenes) or any paragraphs that are particularly brilliant (big grin). But I don't think I've ever gone back and used any of them! Still, I can't bear to just delete. It makes me feel better to cut and paste it somewhere else.

Missy

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Yes, Patricia...I would die of embarrassment if anyone saw my first drafts. ICK. Just ask Camy...I pretty much just puke all over the page. Seriously.

Thanks for stopping by! It's always great to see you!

Hugs

Cheryl

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Missy, I agree...drastic cutting can change voice. That's why I hesitate to do it to my critique partners and when I judge contests.

It takes a deft hand to write tight and maintain voice. I'm still learning the balance.

Thanks for offering your great insights!

Hugs,

Cheryl

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Hey Jenny! Great to see you over here. Discertation (not sure if I even spelled it right! LOL!) is what my friend is having to write now. It's like a technical paper that she has to have done for her PhD. Sounds like a drag to me. LOL!

LOL about swallowing the dictionary....it was my fav book growing up.

Hugs and I still love my ducky!

Cheryl

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Hi Kimberly,

Glad you came by. And sure, pass the info along.

Definitely check out the other comments...these gals have it full of disposable words and helpful advice. I learned lots myself.

Hugs,

Cheryl

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Patty, I keep my cuttings for two reasons. The main one being I have a hard time cutting if I don't because it's gone FOREVER. LOL!

I have a "cut file" simply because it's a safety net and enables me to be more aggressive with the hackery. LOL!

Another reason is, I might love a line of dialogue or something in the cut portion, so I peruse the cut files and sometimes snitch dialogue, etc from it.

Mostly, it's a paficier for me though. LOL!

Thanks for asking questions and learning. We're all in the learning process somewhere.

Hugs,

Cheryl

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Sharon, SO true about the rewriting. Rewriting is also my absolute favorite part. I have a love/hate relationship with writing. HATE doing the rough draft. LOVE the rewrites and layering.

Thanks for dropping by! I applaud your succinctness in writing. Wish I could do it that way...but I guess we all just write how we write. I think my methods grow and change and morph over the years.

Hugs,

Cheryl

Cheryl Wyatt said...

If I forgot anyone...THANKS FOR DROPPING BY!

BE sure to check out Debby's post for today and comment. It's VERY inspiring on the subject of attitude.

Hugs all,

Cheryl

Patty Wysong said...

Missy and Cheryl, thanks so much for replying! I started a cuttings file right after asking the question and you're so very right! It's a great pacifier! LoL. AND it helped me trim more fat than I would have without the cuttings file. *wink*

Thanks so much for that help!!
Hugs!

Bill Brohaugh said...

Sometimes the biggest clues to wordiness are the smallest characters on a page. For instance, it is a personal affliction of mine to use (as I've done here) the word "it" far too often. I search for it (literally and figuratively), because instances of "it" can signal sentences that will benefit from revision. It (yikes!) also helps me avoid weak leads and transitions ("It was a dark and stormy night"). Other tiny signals include other devices I've overused here, including parentheses and their siblings--dashes, semicolons and such. Tiny things, yet blatant signals.

Your opening post is in itself a textbook on concision. I compliment you. The whole subject is one of my passions. And to Tina Russo, I thank you for your kind words about my Write Tight.

Missy Tippens said...

Bill, thank you so much for stopping by!

Missy

Pam Hillman said...

I am not wordy. I don't need to cut words, but add them.

Cheryl, et al, send me your cut words and I'll add them to my wip.

There. Problem solved.

lol

Tina M. Russo said...

OMG, William Brohaugh stopped by. He is like my hero.

I noticed the book (Write Tight) was reissued in paperback last year.

That would be because I judge about a dozen contests a year and recommend it to all the entrants.

Maybe the Seekers could co-author your next book, lol.

Thanks for stopping by. You made my year!!

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Isn't this cool! Bill Brohaugh...yay!

Thanks for recommending the book, Tina.

I'll order a couple extra copies and we can give them away here on Seekerville in the next few months.

Cheryl