Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Words, Words, and More Words

As everyone should know by now, I've been in the midst of eliminating a gazillion words from my manuscript. It's been a very slow and world weary process.

I am, making some progress. I've eliminated about 15,000 words so far, with about 15,000 to go, or maybe only 5,000.

This past weekend was spent searching and eliminating, sometimes replacing the word about. Slow. Tedious. Arrrrgghhhh!

Well, about is only the first word in a list of words suggested for elimination by Rachelle Gardner in her post about Tighten Up Your Manuscript back in August. The full list of words is . . .

about, actually, almost, almost, like, appears, approximately, basically, close to, even, eventually, exactly, finally, just, just then, kind of, nearly, practically, really, seems, simply, somehow, somewhat, sort of, suddenly, truly, utterly, were.

Yeah, that's a heck of a lot of words to search/eliminate. Did I mention that's a heck of a lot of words to search/eliminate?

Still, I need to eliminate words, and this is a good start. In many cases, a word can just go - poof - and be gone from the manuscript. In other cases, the word goes - presto chango - and becomes a different word. Fun, Fun, Fun!!!

Rachelle also gives some great advice on other ways to tighten up your manuscript so, you know the routine . . . CLICK the LINK!!!

The advice is extremely helpful and has really aided the elimination process, at least for me.

Now, in a similar vein, Janet Reid did a post called Let's Have a Pop Quiz in which she answered some burning questions we all probably have, so CLICK the LINK!!

The basics of her rant (trust me, it's a rant) is . . . if an agent speaks/blogs/whatever . . . LISTEN. Agents know what they are talking about. Agents know what they want from an aspiring and/or published writer! Agents, for the most part, are in the know.

So, since agents are in the know, it made sense to pull out Rachelle's post as I near the end (well, at least for this round) of the revision process and follow her nifty little advice as much as possible.



Lady Glamis said...

That's a great list by Rachelle! I think we should listen to agents who blog, yes, but don't stop listening to yourself too. It's your book and your writing. Sometimes if we try to follow too many rules our writing can suffer. I've gone down that road, that's all. Just speaking from experience. But good luck! It sounds like you're doing a great job with your manuscript. That's a lot of words to eliminate!

Scott said...

Lady Glamis - I use/used the list as a guideline only. If the words happened in a conversation, I left them. If the words happened in the narrative . . . well, it all depended on the context. There were a lot of uses of some of the words that were just, well, not necessary . . . so off with their heads!!!

Oh, and there were a few words that I only used once or not at all - woo hoo!!!

Lastly, Rachelle noted that no matter how many words a writer eliminates, and editor is going to want to eliminate even more!


Robyn Campbell said...

AUGH! But I seem to LOVE all those words. I agree the post from Rachelle was(there's one of those naughty little words now) a great one. I really try and follow this advice too. Alas, even in my current WIP, I have started my bad, nasty habits all over again. Only this time, I'm trying to NIP IT IN THE BUD. Great work on cutting. I'm proud of ya. 5,000 ain't many compared to what you have cut. :)

Davin Malasarn said...

I get just slightly jealous of you whenever you mention shortening your novel. I love doing that. In my job it's something that comes up a lot and it always feels like a fun puzzle to me. My fiction tends to go the other way. I'm a spare writer and people usually ask me to flesh things out. So, often I'm busy adding words instead of subtracting. You lucky duck, you.

Tess said...

A good list. My list also includes all of the be verbs .. was were had has be been.... and, for some reason, I like the word "little" and overuse it. Don't know why - just do.

I bet that ms of yours is getting so tight and pretty :)