Cutting Your Word Count


Quality over quantity.

We’ve all heard that before. The professionals talk about strong verbs telling a story. Adjectives, adverbs, etc. are unnecessary and distracting. They ruin the flow of the story.

After reading that tip, I opened my manuscript, found (CTRL+F) and highlighted all words ending with -ly. I went through every word and judged its purpose. Almost every one should be cut. We don’t need quickly’s, quietly’s, happily’s, excitedly’s, finally’s – you get the picture.
I eliminated many, many words by doing this. And it does improve your writing. Try it.

Direct address. I paid attention to it this afternoon. At the coffee shop, I spent three hours with a friend; and I don’t think we called each other by name once. Why should your manuscript be full of direct addresses? Go through dialogue and take out those names. They’re unrealistic.

And erase all the very’s, like’s, kind of’s – even in dialogue.

Take your favorite book and underline the adverbs and adjectives on a couple pages. Compare it to your manuscript.

Which unnecessary words keep creeping into your drafts? Have a success story on word cutting to share? Comment below!


14 responses »

  1. Very helpful advice! I hadn’t really thought of direct addresses as a problem until a few days ago … One of my friends brought that up recently and I realized it’s something I do a lot in dialogue, but it doesn’t feel very realistic as you said. I’m also guilty of using a ton of adverbs in my first drafts. In general I also tend to have a lot of useless descriptions and ramblings that can be cut out.

    • I’m not too strict on myself for the first draft, but when it comes to editing, all the bad stuff needs to go out. It’s a wonderful feeling to have cut hundreds of words and knowing your story just got that much better.

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