Once you’ve completed your manuscript, the fun begins. You will need to go back and cut it by a minimum of 10 percent. That sounds like a lot but once you start taking a closer look at the wording of your sentences, and the information included, you will be surprised at the number of unnecessary words you have used.
When I started editing my novel, I took my story one sentence at a time and asked myself if the wording was appropriate for what I was trying to get across, or was it just fluff to increase the word count. If it’s not adding to the story, take it out.
Overwriting can result from several fundamental errors:
- Too many adjectives and adverbs. i.e. When the yellow, round orb of the sun stealthily and smoothly creeps into the azure blue early morning sky/ One may wander why the sun didn’t simply rise. If you feel the need to modify every verb with an adverb, or every noun with an adjective chances are you’re not picking the right words-Max Keele.
- Using big words when simple ones will do. i.e. Ascending the stairs instead of walking up the stairs. Seeking alternatives for “said” is another common error, that leads characters to “expostulate” or “riposte”.
- Too much detail or backstory. Describing the handle of the samurai sword your protagonist is holding in detail is fine, if it’s relevant to the story line, otherwise it’s fluff you can cut out. Most of us deplore long exposition “lumps” that stop the action dead in its tracks. I love reading inspirational romance novels, but I can’t count how many paragraphs I have skipped to get from the mundane to what really matters.
Remember every word has to do a job. If it’s just taking up space, then it has to go.