Stop Writing So Many Words!

Today we’re going to address two common writing mistakes. One is about understanding and the other is about spacing.

"The first is understanding that all writing is bloated. All of it. Until it’s gone through multiple edits. Everyone writes fat the same way everyone overcooks pasta the first time they make it. This is just as true for an experienced author as it is a beginner. Regardless of pedigree or experience, your first draft will contain too many words. It will need to be chopped."

You might be sayng, “Wait a minute! College and high school students struggle to get the word count. There aren’t too many words, there ar

en’t enough!”

Of course! But I guarant

ee that if you’re a professor who assigned a 3000 word essay, what you get will be bloated. It will be a 2200 essay puffed up on donuts to play the thick character in the movie.

Much of the time this is because students and young writers are uncomfortable writing that many words. I get it. Because they don’t understand the basic math. So let me give you the numbers.

If you need to write

3000 words, you need to write 3500. If you’re writing 750 words for your latest blog, you need to write 1000. If you’re writing out a 200-word description for your new business, write 250.

And no, that is NOT contradictory. We need to write more words because the ones

desperately trying to get to the count, are fluff.

Not all words are equal.

Let me give you an analogy. How many of you like ice cream?

Personally, I think all ice cream is great. However, do you know what separates Ben & Jerry’s from that no-name brand? It’s the amount of air injected into the ice cream. That’s why you can buy twelve liters of no name brand for four bucks and it costs the same for two tablespoons of Ben and Jerry’s. One is dense. The other is not.

And good writing is dense.

In the literal sense.

I expect to cut between 10-20% of everything I write. And that’s someone who has spent over a quarter of a decade writing.

Your writing needs to be lean and muscular, just like those people doing fitness and shaving commercials. (God, I hate those guys. Lol)

But you can only do that if you understand that you need to trim the fat off every thing you write.

"The second part of that is that young writers use too many words within individual sentences."

This speaks to what I was saying earlier but let’s narrow it down.

Let’s examine this up close.

“Trisha’s oily, brown hair fluttered in the wind as she ran around the narrow, elongated track, hoping to avenge her terrible defeat at the hands of Cecille, the cocky and beautiful senior from delta phi who had defeated her badly at nationals the past two seasons.”

So, what do you see? I want you to take a look at that sentence for a minute. Is there anything wrong with that sentence?

I would say a few things. While it works as a plausible sentence, there’s too much going on. Too wordy means too many ideas, and we want to stick to one idea per sentence. In the second part of the sentence, we’re talking about Trisha’s relationship with Cecille, describing their relationship, and using meaningless adjectives.

It’s too much.

Too many words.

So, let’s try it again.

“Trisha’s hair fluttered in the wind as she ran around the narrow track, hoping to avenge her defeat at the hands of Cecille, the senior from delta phi who had defeated her at nationals the past two seasons.”

Better, right? We’ve removed the unnecessary adjectives and adverbs, and the sentence flows more smoothly. But it’s still too long. Let’s try one more time, keeping in mind the principle of one thought per sentence.

“Trisha’s hair fluttered in the wind as she ran around the narrow track, hoping to avenge her defeat at the hands of Cecille. The senior from delta phi had defeated her at nationals the past two seasons.”

Now in this case I cheated a bit. I only shortened the sentence. But when I break it up, do you see how it changes the pace? Instead of lingering, you’re driving your piece forward!

Whatever you’re writing, understand that too many words is normal, and that you need to write bigger if you have a quota because you’re going to cut. And secondly, remember that you need to remove unnecessary additions to any sentence. That’s the spacing part. Get to the heart of what you’re trying to say and say it.

If you can do that, you’re on your way.

Remember, you can find my videos on YouTube. I’ll see you soon at A Writer’s Life Academy.



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