Wordiness is one of the most common problems I see in unsolicited manuscripts – there are many ways of tightening up a story and improving the pace; here are 3 of them.

  1. Cut out unnecessary polite conversation in dialogue. Too much “Hello, how are you?” doesn’t make for interesting reading. If your characters don’t need to exchange pleasantries, don’t make them.  Children particulary find such conversations deathly dull! If you need to inform your readers that characters met and made polite conversation, do so with the minimum of words necessary for your story to flow along at a good pace. Then get on with what your characters really need to talk about. Have you noticed that characters on the TV rarely even say goodbye when they put the phone down? All such unnecessary words are left out to keep the story zipping along at a good pace. You need to do the same.
  2. Ruins of York abbey
    Nice photo . . .

    Cut out repeats. Repeats slow down your story, so to improve the pace, cut them out. For example if you have said in your narrative that Harry was concerned about his brother (and given the reasons why), you don’t then need Harry to repeat the whole thing again in dialogue to a friend. Decide which works best for the flow of the story and cut the repeat out. Tip: go through your manuscript with an eye purely for looking for places where you have repeated yourself – you might be surprised how much you can cut, and how much faster your story then reads.

  3. Ruins of York abbey
    but you really don’t need it twice, do you? 🙂

    Take a ruthless look at all your scenes. Do they show character, set the scene or move the plot forward? If you find one that doesn’t meet any of these criteria, cut it. It might be a lovely scene, but if it’s not essential to the plot, it has to go. Your readers will thank you . . . it’s hard to cut a scene you have spent hours working on, but you can always keep it on file for use in another story!


I trust you have found this useful – if you did, please leave a comment and susbscribe to email updates to make sure you never miss another post! As there are many more ways of improving the pace of stories, I might do a follow-up post. If you think that would be useful, please let me know.

Janet WilsonI look forward to keeping in touch, because together we can make a difference 🙂




PS I thought I would put a different photo of me than the one I usually have with my dog, because there’s little faster than a falcon! 🙂

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3 ways to improve the pace of your story
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8 thoughts on “3 ways to improve the pace of your story

    • 18th November 2014 at 10:49 am

      Thanks Gill, glad that was useful! I’ve added a video that I couldn’t get up yesterday – technology isn’t really my thing but I’m learning 🙂

    • 21st November 2014 at 4:24 pm

      Thank you Mel!

  • 18th November 2014 at 2:53 pm

    This is really helpful and practical, Janet, thanks. I’m in a little email group of writers and ‘pace’ comes up every now and again, so a follow-up article would be great.

  • 18th November 2014 at 3:19 pm

    Such good tips Janet! Have often wanted to edit books I’ve been reading which suffer from these problems … how I learned to look for them in my own writing.

    • 20th November 2014 at 5:09 pm

      Thanks for your kind comment Clare – indeed, this is such an easy problem to slip into. If we’re enjoying our writing (and we certainly should!), it’s easy to write way too much!


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