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.
- 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.
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.
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.
I 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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