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:
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.
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.
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! :-)