Who Watches Paint Dry?

untitledI started out with a 90,000+ word manuscript and cut  it down to a little over 80,000 words. While this is still an acceptable size for a novel, it’s short in length. My initial thought was, I need to go back and add some of the stuff I cut, but then I remembered, there is a reason that I cut that stuff.

If I want to add more words, the best thing for me to do is throw in a little more conflict for my character to have to resolve. Adding fluff will only slow the story down and put my reader to sleep. If he manages to hold on that long.

I read a few articles yesterday and couldn’t help but laugh. They were so me. I hope I’ve completed that phase of the learning process, but the on-the-nose-writing can sneak up on you.

The blogger I was reading, called it ‘Tea, Vicar?” and provided an amusing example:

    “More tea, Vicar?” Angela asked, taking his cup and placing it on the tray beside her.
“Don’t mind if I do,” said the Rev. Phelps.
“That was two sugars, wasn’t it?” she asked, pouring the fragrant liquid from the heirloom pot into his cup and stirring in the milk. When he nodded, she dropped in two sugar lumps, stirred again, and handed him back the cup.
“Thank you, my dear,” he said, accepting it with a smile.

I agree with the blogger, this is about as exciting as watching paint dry.  Ask yourself, is this moving my story forward or increasing my word count? If it has nothing to do with the plot-get rid of it. Unless the fact that the Vicar always takes two sugar lumps or she uses an heirloom pot is significant to the story, it shouldn’t be there.  Who has time for the mundane?

Remember every scene, every sentence, every word, has a purpose, and that’s to propel the plot forward. Throw your MC right into the middle of the conflict and then resolve the issue.

I don’t want a tour of the countryside, or a long rambling chat. Don’t give me lifeless prose that adds fluff and not content. I don’t care how pretty it is, and the publisher want either. I want unrelenting movement towards the crisis. I want action. I want to be gripped. I think you get the picture 🙂

If you want your manuscript published, you’re going to have to roll up your sleeves and get to work. Cut that fluff. A publisher want do it for you. He/She will just send it back, or worse, toss it into the rejection pile.

-Jan R




Who Watches Paint Dry?

Are You Overwriting?(Revised)

imagesOnce 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.

-Jan R


Are You Overwriting?(Revised)