Thursday, September 25, 2014


Every 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                                  true facts
          end result                                 sudden crisis
          full and complete                      terrible tragedy
          kind of                                     each individual
          hopes and desires                    free gift
          first and foremost                     important essentials
          basic and fundamental             consensus of opinion
          each and every                         various differences
          true and accurate                     past history
          completely finished                            final outcome

When you’re editing, watch for repeat meanings of words and delete them.  Also be aware of redundant word phrasing.

This is the last and final call for mystery writer interviews.
Revise: This is the final call for mystery writer interviews.

Also watch for redundant categories.  Certain words suggest a category. 

shiny is an appearance              large in size
bright in color                           round in shape
period in time                           at an early time

A final tip you can do to catch redundant modifiers is to read your book out loud.  It’s amazing what your ears will hear - that your eyes don’t see! You can cut redundancies and tighten your story.

“Let’s tighten that last paragraph!”

A final tip?  Read your story aloud.  You’ll hear those redundant modifiers, cut them and tighten your writing.

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