Decreasing The Word Count In A Manuscript

Many times, after the first or second drafts, writers find they have monumental manuscript of 200,000 or more words. If you find yourself in that situation, here’s some ways to decrease your word count without hurting your story.

Look for unnecessary words like that, just, or ly words. A strong verb can sometimes take the place of a lot of words. Here’s a link to some words you can look for.

Are you beginning where the action starts? Sometimes writers start their stories too early. Find the point where your story gets interesting, and cut everything before that. Also if you have a prologue or a lot of back story in the first few chapters, lose it.

Look at each scene. Any scene that doesn’t further the story has to go no matter how good it is. So close your eyes, take a deep breath, and hit delete.

Consider cutting out a lot of your descriptions. Sometimes we spell out too much for the reader. Scant details such as brown hair or blue eyes can go a long way toward fueling the writer’s imagination. You don’t have to write about the shape of the eyes and chin, how long the nose is, where the hair is dark brown, reddish brown, sandy brown, or medium brown. You don’t even have to include what the person’s wearing unless it’s important to your story. Let the reader fill in the details.

Look for places your narrative is wordy. Consider how to say things using fewer words.

Resist the urge to explain what is happening to the reader. Let the dialogue and action speak for itself. For instance, if you write he shouted loudly because he was angry, you’re doing this. Shouting can only be done loudly and is usually done when a person is angry.

Don’t be redundant. Don’t repeat things over and over. Trust the reader to get it the first time.

If you do these steps, you’ll move a long way toward decreasing the size of your novel.

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This entry was posted in Editing, Sharpening Our Writing, Writing Tips and tagged , , by Tamera Kraft. Bookmark the permalink.

About Tamera Kraft

Tamera Kraft has been a children’s pastor for over 20 years. She is the leader of a ministry called Revival Fire For Kids where she mentors other children’s leaders, teaches workshops, and is a children’s ministry consultant and children’s evangelist. She is also a writer and has curriculum published including Kid Konnection 5: Kids Entering the Presence of God published by Pathway Press. She is a recipient of the 2007 National Children’s Leaders Association Shepherd’s Cup for lifetime achievement in children’s ministry.

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