This post is the thirty-second in a series about writing a novel. You can check out the list of past topics at the end of this post.
As you work on tightening your writing, you need to remove unnecessary word and delete or change words that you might use too often. Often you don’t even realize you are using these words.
I will have to say the word I use often that is not necessary is the word “that.” Now there is nothing wrong with this word, but often it can be cut without any loss of meaning to the sentence.
Example from my book Destiny
He only hoped they were right and that slipping the scepter back into the High Council archives would be as easy as Coy thought. – deleted
She began with one the Histories that mentioned King Rupert. – left in
Another author once commented that he often mentioned his characters taking breaths. “I took a breath and plunged into the forest.” As he noted, breathing should be a given and was only interesting when the character stopped doing it.
Words Used Too Often
Sometimes what you need to do to tighten your writing is to look at your word choices. I found in one my novels that in my first draft, my characters “nod” a lot.
Here are few other words that other authors have said they feel they use too much.
Additionally, you can usually delete “really,” “pretty,” and “very” as these are unnecessary modifiers.
This brings me to adverbs which I touched about last week. These are often redundant, or you can replace many adverbs and verbs with a single stronger verb.
Example: Coy closed the door angrily.
Rewrite: Coy slammed the door shut.
I typically search for about 40 different words that I think are unnecessary or that I feel I might use too often, which could even include the names of my characters. The easiest way to do this is to use the “Find” feature on your Word Processing program. On one of my novels, I ended up cutting about 2000 words just by doing this.
Cutting out excess words is just one step in editing your novel. Rest assured as you cut out words and tighten your prose, you are improving your story.