Friday, June 15, 2007

WORD COUNT-GOING UNDER THE KNIFE-CONTINUED

Hello all,

As promised, here are some examples of how I cut nearly 7000 words from my manuscript. I will paste the original passage, then follow it with the cut version in bold. you can see how by simply rearranging sentence structure, or choosing one strong word in place of three weak ones, etc, can tighten writing and bring your count down.

Also, a couple of you unsubscribed after yesterday's post, saying "Blog is no longer relevant." Since I don't wanna lose readership, I'm putting a question out there for you guys who are my faithful readers....what kinds of things do you want (or not) to see on the blog?

I'm trying to determine if my blog readership is mainly friends/family, readers, writers, none of the above. LOL!

Please let me know in the comments what you enjoy (or not) about this blog. THANKS FOR YOUR READERSHIP! I appreciate you all very much!

Now...back to our regularly scheduled examples of cutting:
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He went back to his workout.
He resumed his workout.
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He tugged a pair of binoculars from...

He tugged binoculars from....

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Chance gave him the okay signal with his fingers

Chance signaled "okay" with his fingers

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Then a sweet, female twangy voice came through the line.

Then a sweet female voice twanged through the line.

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It hit Chance out of nowhere. He realized if he had his pick, it's be Bitsy.

Realization hit chance out of nowhere. If he had his pick, it'd be Bitsy.

(Not only did we cut words here, we got rid of an indeterminite "it")

He handed his plastic drink cup to Bitsy to hold.

He handed his cup to Bitsy.

Whenever you see RUE in your ms from a judge or critiquer, it means to "Resist the Urge to Explain." Obviously we know why he's handing the cup to her. We need to resist the urge to explain stuff like this to readers because most will "get it" without having to be told.

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"Sure." Chance stood, dreading this. He handed his plastic cup to Bitsy. "Be right back," he told her.

"Sure." Chance stood, dreading this. He handed his plastic cup to Bitsy. "Be right back."

Here, I omitted the tag (he told her) at the end because I already had an action beat there, denoting the speaker. We really don't need to use both. And I really didn't need to put "really" in this sentence to get the point across. LOL! Find your trigger words and be ruthless. :-)


Bits tried hard to ignore the eyes following her and Chance as they wove their way through the crowd which was packed like sardines.

Bits ignored gazes tracking her and Chance as they wove through the crowd, packed like sardines.

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"Not according to police, Chance. Of fifty plus bystanders, he paramedic told us there was only one other man who went in the water to help you and Nolan, and he was an off-duty fireman."

"Not according to police. Of fifty bystanders, only one other man went in the water to help you guys."

As you can see by the above example, one way to cut word is remove most of the proper names in dialogue. In actual speech, people don't say one another's names every other sentence. LOL! I understand this is a technique writers use to let readers know who's speaking. But if you've denoted the speaker properly by action beats or distinguishing dialogue, you won't need to say their name unless absolutely crucial to the dialogue stint.

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I also went through and did a word "find" on "that" "so" "just" "finally" and "gaze" since I tend to overuse those.

AND, I nixed all unnecessary words. You may have to make more than one pass to tighten the writing. It's best to set the story aside and let it gel awhile. That way, when you look for places to cut, you'll have a fresh perspective on the story. For example, when I went back through the ms with another pass, I trimmed more from places I'd already cut. One example: the passage, "Chance signaled "okay" with his fingers" became Chance signaled "okay." Most readers will get that he signaled with his fingers. The only other way he could have signaled "okay" would be to say it, in which case I could have written, "Chance mouthed, "okay."

Hope this helps! There are a gazillion examples, but this will hopefully give you some ideas for when you go to trim your own stuff.


--
Cheryl Wyatt Gal. 2:20 Pouring my vial of words over Him.

www.CherylWyatt.com http://www.Scrollsquirrel.blogspot.com

A SOLDIER'S PROMISE~ Steeple Hill Love Inspired~ Jan. 2008
A SOLDIER'S FAMILY~ Steeple Hill Love Inspired~ Mar. 2008

www.Steeplehill.com www.Loveinspiredauthors.com

4 comments:

Shauna said...

Cheryl, I love what you do with your blog. You always find a way to make me laugh or smile. This mom-of-three thanks you!

I'm a reader! I couldn't honestly say what I would like to see on the blog. I do enjoy the Scene starters each month and I've been trying my hand at some of them. That hardly makes me a writer. LOL!

Christa said...

I admire your resolve to be a mommie. Sometimes "no" to others and "yes" to our family is volunteering to not volunteer! As for your blog---your sense of humor slays me. What I am most learn from and scour your blofg for are your plotstorms and writing tips.

Jess said...

Hey Cheryl, I just happened onto your site today. I'm not a subscriber but I might be after reading how you cut and revise. This is good stuff. :) I'm just beginning to revise my completed ms. so you've given me some great examples. I'm interested in the writing tips with examples and plotstorming. Thanks!

Hope Chastain said...

Quoting:
Bits tried hard to ignore the eyes following her and Chance as they wove their way through the crowd which was packed like sardines.


Bits ignored gazes tracking her and Chance as they wove through the crowd, packed like sardines.

Squirl, I'd change that last sentence even more to:

Bits ignored gazes tracking her and Chance as they wove their way through the sardine-packed crowd.

Otherwise, it leaves open to question, is the crowd packed like sardines, or are Bits and Chance?

Here's where I'd put a :sillygrin: if one was available. I know I have that problem with my own writing, so I notice it when I see it in others'. (You wouldn't believe some of the sentences I've come up with! Oh, wait a minute, yes you would: you've read my stuff!) ;-)

Hugs, Hope :-)