NaNoWriMo Tip #11: Wordiness Part 2

Charles Dickens (1812-1870)

It is good practice to write rough drafts without being too wordy as a common exercise so that we can be better writers out of the gate and not have to go back and do so much revision.

One of the ways I write when I’m in a hurry and have to get a certain quota finished, is speak the text as if dictating and then write as I speak, doing all the voices and expressing the tone in the description.  I am sure many of you will come back to this post during the eding process in a couple of weeks, but others will be able to do some of this with the rough draft.  Here are few very brief tips for staying out of the tangled briar patch of wordiness:

1.  Eliminate Un-needed Articles – a, an, and the can fill the landscape of your prose like so many cluttered stones.  Try to minimize your use of them.

2.  Weak Expletives – “there is”, “there are” and “it is” can clutter up prose and cause it to be too wordy.  Consider omitting them completely to tighten up the description.

3.  Active Rather Than Passive Verbs – “The door was opened by Chalmers” should be “Chalmers opened the door.”  Active verbs remove clutter almost immediately.

4.  Don’t Explain the Obvious – The days of Dickensian prose is long gone.  Dickens would spend pages describing a room, when in our modern age with television and internet, we do not need such description.  Give readers the gist of the room, using tonal words to describe it in order to emphasize a mood rather than a long boring description.

5.  Repetition – If you’ve written it once, do not write it again…unless you are trying to emphasize a certain symbolic object or color.  Make sure any repetition has purpose.

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