Tuesday, June 19, 2012

15 Habits of Great Writers: Declutter

As a Picture Book writer I am constantly trying to master the economy of language.  In fact, today I am in the process of revising a 650 word manuscript before getting it critiqued.  I have it down to 501 words.

Its amazing to me when I read a manuscript that I thought was perfect two months ago and I suddenly notice turns of phrases and filler words that simply aren't needed. 

My newest war is on "lazy" verbs and adverbs.  I am currently trying to make stronger choices that say much more.

Cut, cut, trim, trim.

Not all phrases and words are easy to eliminate, however.  I sometimes find myself trying to hold on to those clever and funny lines that are not really important to the plot...but they genius!  Ugh..kill those darlings!

Cut, cut, trim, trim.

And it never fails that whenever word count is discussed among Picture Book writers, there is always someone who brings up that there are indeed 1000 word books that are published.  Sure...there are exceptions...but if 500 word manuscripts are what agents and editors are buying more of, don't you want to increase your odds of getting sold?  I know I do.

We can argue for longer manuscripts, but make sure it isn't simply your ego that is arguing. 

When in doubt, try trimming...maybe 100 words at a time.  You will surprise yourself.

Cut, cut, trim, trim!  Let's all declutter today!

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