1. Include your character in scene descriptions. I made the mistake of taking too literally the advice to treat your setting as a separate character. In every scene, describe the location as part of the point-of-view character’s experience. This will automatically cut out some tangents you might otherwise embark on.
2. Avoid excessive use of adverbs and adjectives. One sign of strong writing is that nouns and verbs pull their own weight and don’t need to be propped up with other words. Take the presence of an ‘ly’ word as a challenge to find a better verb or noun .
3. Avoid overuse of phrases using participles (words ending in ‘ing’). Strong sentences don’t need to lean on tacked-on phrases. However, it’s important to vary sentence structures, so eliminating participial phrases altogether isn’t necessary or desirable. Balance is the key here.
4. Be appropriate for your genre. Writers of fantasy or historical fiction often need to add a bit more description to convey foreign or bygone worlds. This doesn’t grant the writer a license to bog down readers in detail, though. One of the most important skills a writer can develop is the ability to convey a lot with an economy of words.
5. If you notice a string of little words in a sentence, chances are you can cut some of them or recast the sentence to avoid wordiness.
6. Let dialogue do its work. Pare beats or dialogue tags to those needed for clarity. Opinions vary on what is too little or too much, though. Watch for agreement in the feedback you receive. Where there is no agreement, trust your instinct as a storyteller.
7. Question every scene to make sure it needs to exist. Sometimes combining two scenes into one makes sense. If cutting a scene doesn’t impact the story, or if you can sum up an entire scene with a sentence elsewhere, your course is clear. Making cuts can help your pacing and decrease the likelihood readers will skip over passages. Readers who have not been slowed by extraneous passages will have more patience for your book overall.
Honing a strong sense of story can’t be taught, only refined. It can take time but is worth the effort. In a crowded marketplace a gifted storyteller stands apart.
Wayfarer Launch Celebration $20 Starbucks Card Giveaway.
One person will win a $20 Starbucks card. One entry per person per day.