Time now for the kind of English lesson nobody ever gave us in high school – but should have:

by Rita Karnopp

02 too many wordsEvery word you write is important.  That doesn’t mean you have to write every word possible.  Writing ‘tight’ is as important as pacing and freshness.  A short sentence is more effective than a paragraph saying the same thing.  Get to the point!

I know that when we naturally talk with others we have a tendency to wander here and there in conversation.  But, don’t write your book that way.  Let your characters talk – just don’t let them ramble on-and-on.

“blue in color”

Editing is the time to be thinking about cutting redundant words (surprised and startled are the same thing) and the over explained paragraphs, plus meaningless dialog.

Don’t pepper your work with ‘big words’ because you love the English language.  Another area to be careful of is the professional and technical language you’re used to, but most likely your reader isn’t.  Write so your reader will understand.  Don’t try to teach them your expert or procedural language either.

When editing, look for sentences that can be switched around and shortened.  You’d be amazed how tight your writing will become.

Detach yourself emotionally from your words.  That’s big.  I hate to delete a flowing, brilliant sentence.  But if it doesn’t sound like my character – I’ll have to cut that sentence.  It’s not easy – but if it makes my book better, I’m willing to cut it out!

Rely on the power of a single well-chosen word and trust it to do its job.  What are some key tips to writing tight?

Remove redundant modifiers.  Say what?  Yep, they’re part of our every-day language, yet not necessary.  Here are some commonly used redundant modifiers. I’m sure once you read them, you’ll have many more to add to the list.

sat down

end result

full and complete

kind of

hopes and desires

first and foremost

basic and fundamental

each and every

true and accurate

completely finished

Read it all

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