While my blogs may be a bit verbose, I like to have fun with them, making them conversational. But when it comes to manuscripts, I strive to tighten up. Flowery words, extra descriptors and adverbs are not the best ploy for keeping reader’s attention. In certain genres, it can work, but publishers want to see a polished and tight manuscript.
So how do you get your baby in the best shape? Here are three ways to start.
Kick The Crutch: All of us have crutch words. Some may be peppered uses of participles, determiners, adverbs, conjunctions, and phrases which don’t add a log. Some of my favorites include “that, really, began, slowly, just, and was.” I’m not looking down my nose, saying “favorite” to all those who use them, I’m looking straight in the mirror. Really, I’ve begun to use that set of words, ever so slowly, and was just kicking myself for doing so. Ha! If you’ve been paying attention, you just read a super dense crutch sentence. So, (another favorite crutch) find and ditch the habitual words that add little to your manuscript.
Create A Cadence: Writers know a voice will slow any manuscript. Sentences like “Cookies that contain chocolate are made in that factory,” not only slows the cadence, but includes lots of unnecessary words. “This factory makes chocolate cookies” might not light up the Eiffel Tower, but instantly adds action to your manuscript. Overuse of filler words can also take one sentence down to a slower beat. “That,” “was,” “will be,” well, you get the gist, can reduce the tempo, clutter the manuscript, bog the reader down, and become a distraction.
Kill The Bore: This could be plot line or a character that is irrelevant, and well, boring. I recently found myself killing a bore in a manuscript I’m writing. And guess what? It was a co-protagonist. It took me a hot minute, or should I say, couple of months, to figure out that this chick was just, well, boring. So off she went, and, in her place, a stronger story arc formed.
Hey, I’m certain you’ve caught a few faux pas in this blog and that’s fair. Did you catch that ‘hey’? But it’s a blog, not a manuscript, providing a little more leeway for loose verbiage and illustrative content. Not an excuse, just a fact. But manuscripts? No sirree, Bob! It’s all about the editorial workout… No pain, no gain. Tighten, tighten, and tighten a little more!
What ideas do you have?