A challenge I have always faced in writing is trying to be less wordy. Whether it was academic or creative writing, I always wrote too many words, and sometimes still do. This was a major focus for me during grad school: say more by writing less.
Listen to the full discussion here:
Some tips for writing less wordy include:
- Remove filler words. For example, write “I want to write a book” rather than “I want to be able to write a book”. The first sentence is instantly better, as it is more direct by arriving to the point in a more concise sentence.
- Remove redundancies. If you find yourself repeating information in different ways, or repeating words that are too similar, edit as needed. For example, rather than writing, “The girl was kind, nice, and respectful to her mom,” write, “The girl respected her mom.” The other adjectives conveyed the same meaning, so they were not all necessary.
- Remove adverbs. Often, we use adverbs to better describe a scene, when there are better, stronger verbs to use in their place. For example, “the girl ran quickly across the field,” is not as strong as “the girl sprinted across the field”. The second sentence describes the same idea but uses less words and paints a better picture for the reader, right?
- Remove fancy words. The reader will feel distracted when too many fancy words are used in one sentence in many types of writing. Think about your audience and if using advanced vocabulary is appropriate. It is very likely that you can convey the same message using simple language.
In an effort to write less wordy, I have challenged myself with responding to a writing prompt in less than 100 words. I encourage you to try this challenge with me, especially for those who are in the editing stages of your WIP like me!
Here goes nothing:
Write about a character who finds an odd-looking egg in the forest.
Steve stared at the blue egg nestled among the leaves.
The egg rocked left and right. A stream of light burst through its top, enveloped his body, and sucked him into the shell.
“We’re not ready yet,” Steve breathed.
“You failed.” The voice echoed against the darkness.
Steve swallowed and found himself back at his cabin’s doorstep. The egg sat on the ground, glaring at him.
Twenty-three hours and fifty-nine minutes to go. Earth was still unprepared to move.
I definitely just edited that for two days trying to keep it under 100 words and make it a halfway decent piece of writing. What do you think? Let me know your thoughts and submit your response to the prompt below!