Five ways to cut the number of words in your manuscript…

  1. Be sure the backstory enters the story at the time it’s essential to understand the plot, characters, or emotion. Not a minute too soon or too late. Sometimes backstory information has been added by you, the author, so that you can understand it. Cut it out and put it in a folder so that you can resurrect it, if you need it. If the reader doesn’t need to know it, cut it out.
  2. Choose one word to replace phrases. Choose phrases to replace clauses.  Change prepositional phrases like teacher at Fairbanks School to  Fairbanks School teacher to adjective noun. (Darcy Pattison and Joe Hight both mention this in their articles listed below.)
  3. Cut the adverbs. Replace them with strong verbs. (There are at least 20 sources that tell authors to do this.)
  4. Don’t interrupt dialogue too many times with unnecessary actions. Cut the facial expressions and body gestures, like grimacing her face, raising her eyebrows, lighting his cigarette.  Let the bigger actions speak for the characters. Make sure these actions are not ordinary. They are actions only a character like yours would do.  Let them move the plot, highlight the character, and/or add emotional tension. Dialogue that is interrupted too many times with unnecessary actions like these might make a reader put your book down forever. Highlight the words in your text that interrupt the dialogue.
  5. Rewrite the dialogue so it can be understood without tags of he said, she said.

What Readers Want from Authors

 

As readers move from traditional hardbound books to digital books for the various e-readers available now and in the future, one thing hasn’t changed over the years, the reader’s expectations. They expect a level of quality when they spend their money to purchase a hard copy, or time downloading a digital book.

 

What readers expect:

 

  • Readability
  • Believability
  • Characters they can empathize with
  • Believable Dialogue
  • Descriptive
  • Good editing
  • Deep POV
  • Tight writing
  • Consistency
  • Good word choice
  • Proper use of nouns, verbs, and adjectives
  • Proper grammar
  • Proper punctuation
  • Proper spelling
  • Words that don’t send the reader to the dictionary
  • A book that doesn’t bore the reader

 

This is only a short list, but you get the idea. Readers are author’s best friend or their worst enemy, the author makes the difference by the words in their story, how well the edited the manuscript is, and the author proofreads it before it reaches the reader.

 

Some may think this is a lot to ask, but consider the fact, the author’s reputation is on the line with every piece of writing they prepare for consumption by readers. This could be a blog about the book, a viral book tour, an author’s web site, a press release about their book or any piece of copy.

“To Be” or not “To Be”

How to Eliminate “To Be” Verbs

  1. Identify−Students need to memorize the “to be” verbs to avoid using them and to revise those that they have used in essays: is, am, are, was, were, be, being, been. Teach students to self-edit by circling “to be” verbs in the revision stage of writing. Teach students how to problem-solve whether a “to be” verb is necessary or not. Teach students to identify and revise Non-standard English forms of the “to be” verb (Common Core State Standards L.2,3). For example, “They be watching cartoons” or “She been taking her time”
  2. Substitute−Sometimes a good replacement of a “to be” verb just pops into the brain. For example, instead of “That cherry pie is delicious,” substitute the “to be” verb is with tastes as in “That cherry pie tastes delicious.” Also, substitute the “there,” “here,” and “it” + “to be” verbs. For example, instead of “There is the cake, and here are the pies for dessert, and it is served by Mom,” replace with “Mom serves the cake and pies for dessert.” Let’s also add on the “this,” “that,” “these,” and “those” + “to be” verbs. Finally, strong linking verbs can replace “to be” verbs. For example, instead of “That was still the best choice,” substitute the “to be” verb was with the linking verb remained as in “That remained the best choice.”
  3. Convert−Students can start  the sentence differently to see if this helps eliminate a “to be” verb. For example, instead of “Charles Schulz was the creator of the Peanuts cartoon strip,” convert the common noun creator to the verb created as in “Charles Schulz created the Peanuts cartoon strip.”
  4. Change−To eliminate a”to be” verb, students can change the subject of the sentence to another noun or pronoun in the sentence and rearrange the order of the sentence. For example, instead of “The car was stopped by a police officer,” change the complete subject, the car, to a police officer to write “A police officer stopped the car.” Also, students can add in a different sentence subject to eliminate a “to be” verb. For example, instead of “The books were written in Latin,” add in a different sentence subject, such as “authors” to change the passive voice to the active voice and write “Authors wrote the books in Latin. Lastly, starting the sentence with a different word or part of speech will help eliminate the “to be” verb. For example, instead of “The monster was in the dark tunnel creeping,” rearrange as “Down the dark tunnel crept the monster.”
  5. Combine−Look at the sentences before and after the one with the “to be” verb to see if combining the sentences will eliminate the “to be” verb. For example, instead of “The child was sad. The sensitive child was feeling that way because of the news story,” combine as “The news story saddened the sensitive child.”

 

Creating Compelling Conflict

Be certain your main character has a worthy, noble goal — no one likes a shallow greedy protagonist.

Consider the tension of a ticking clock. Time limits for reaching a goal will create an urgency that readers find compelling.

A plot is one obstacle after another — never make it too easy for your protagonist.

Your main character needs to solve his own problems. Readers like active protagonists who do something, not passive kids who are done to.

Your main character must act consistent with the person you have created him to be. If a wimpy kid turns into a hero or a bully becomes compassionate, the reader must have sufficient reason to believe that can happen.

The protagonist’s goal must be important to him. Something must be at stake if he fails — something big. Look at your story and ask yourself, what happens if my protag fails? Are the consequences great enough to create strong motivation to overcome?

Jump into the story at a moment of excitement. Even the best conflict won’t help a story if your reader abandons you before he gets to the exciting part.

Resolution of the story must not leave reader with a lot of lose ends or questions. Readers expect to see the main character reach his goal, or abandon the goal in favor of a more desirable goal. Never give the reader the impression that you just got tired of the story and ended it — the ending should be emotionally satisfying and logically drawn from the characterization and story details.

Advice for aspiring writers

“Read, read, and read some more! Make sure you read a wide variety of stories: fantasy stories teach you about making up completely new worlds, crime-solving stories teach you about handling a complicated plot, stories with lots of characters teach you how to describe relationships. Also, write as many stories as you can, even if no one else reads them. And remember that the best inspiration comes from what’s around you.” —Erin Hunter

Five Steps to Completing Your First Draft

Follow these stages of preparation and production to assemble a first draft of written (or spoken) content.

  1. Identify Your Purpose
    What is the reason for writing the content? Are you objectively presenting information? If so, is it for educational purposes, or for entertainment — or both? Are you writing to help someone make a decision, or encouraging someone to take action? Identifying your goal for the content will help you shape the piece.
  2. Identify Your Readership
    Who are your intended readers (and your unintended ones)? What is their level of literacy, and what is their degree of prior knowledge of the topic?

Imagining who your readers are will help you decide what voice and tone to adopt, how formal or informal your language will be — though that factor also depends on your approach (see below) — and how much detail or background information you provide.

  1. Identify Your Approach

Should your content be authoritative, or is it the work of someone informally communicating with peers? Are you offering friendly advice, or is your tone cautionary? Are you selling something, or are you skeptical? Should the content be serious, or is some levity appropriate? Determining your strategy, in combination with identifying your readership, will help you decide how the piece will feel to the reader.

  1. Identify Your Ideas
    Brainstorm before and during the drafting process, and again when you revise. If appropriate, talk or write to intended readers about what they hope to learn from the content. Imagine that you are an expert on the topic, and pretend that you are being interviewed about it. Write down the questions and your answers to help you structure the content. Alternatively, present a mock speech or lecture on the topic and transcribe your talk.

Draft an executive summary or an abstract of the content, or think about how you would describe it to someone in a few sentences. Or draw a diagram or a map of the content.

Using one or more of these strategies will help you populate your content with the information your readers want or need.

  1. Identify Your Structure
    Craft a title that clearly summarizes the topic in a few words. Explain the main idea in the first paragraph. Organize the content by one of several schemes: chronology or sequence, relative importance, or differing viewpoints. Use section headings or transitional language to signal new subtopics. Integrate sidebars, graphics, and/or links as appropriate.

Incorporating these building blocks will help you produce a coherent, well-organized piece.

From: Daily Writing Tips