Thursday, August 24, 2017


EDITOR'S NOTE: Guys, gals, and green tentacle beasts from the planet Yyyyarchazaick... this is hands-down one of the best articles I've seen on how to trim the fat and cut words to tighten your prose, fiction or non. You owe it to your career to read this article. 


by Paul Bishop

The experience of editing over fifty books and repeatedly slashing red ink across the same words and phrases, has made me hyper aware of the same issues in my own writing. I now mercilessly try to eliminate all of the same fat in my manuscripts I’ve scalpeled from others.

To write leaner more impactful prose, you must not only be willing to eliminate flabby sentences and fat words, you need to be able to recognize them. To help with this process there should be a self-help program for writers to join—Word Watchers: Lose 10% Of Your Manuscript In 10 Days...

Members of the writers’ group I mentor know I am on a quest to eliminate the word that from the English language. As an editor, I’ve found the dreaded word to be riddled unnecessarily through almost every manuscript I review. My rule is, if you can remove that from a sentence and the sentence still makes sense, run the word out of town on a log.

Compare the following:

•She needed to tell him that the car wouldn’t start.
•She needed to tell him the car wouldn’t start.
•I was glad that she was doing better.
•I was glad she was doing better.

In both examples, the sentence becomes stronger by removing the weak link of the word, that.

Use a word search to see how many times that appears in your manuscript. You’ll be shocked. It’s especially overwhelming when you realize 95% of thats could be excised. Removing this scourge will strengthen your sentences without changing the integrity of your prose.

Of is another overused word I can guarantee is cluttering up your manuscript like a bad case of acne.

Compare the following:
•He examined the damaged paw of the dog
•He examined the dog’s injured paw.

You decide which sentence is stronger, leaner, expressed more concisely. Now think about how many sentences in your manuscript are being blemished by the of virus.

Read the full article:

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