Posted in Editing

Condensed Words

You’re walking with a friend in a crowded amusement park. In your pocket are some coins, but what you don’t realize is you have a hole in your pocket. The next time you reach in to get them, you may only have a couple quarters left. The hole sucked the rest of your coins and out it went without you knowing it. Well, think of the words you write with as your hole and the reader as your coins. You want to keep your readers hooked and reading, not lost and motivated to put your story down. So…..how do you keep your readers from falling out of that hole?

Your wording should be tightened up, and condensed. In other words, don’t be wordy. It shouldn’t take you several words to get your point across. Here are some examples:

  1. Wordy: The rushing wind hit me in the face and tossed my hair around.
  2. Much Better: The wind slapped my hair.

In this example, both sentences pretty much say the same thing but number 1 uses more words to get to the point. Number 2 is straight forward AND it implies the wind is hitting the person in the face without having said that it is.

  1. Wordy: In the forest it was calm. The sunbeams reached their rays through the trees, and the light was speckled throughout.
  2. Better: Sunbeams fingered through the calm forest leaving speckled light throughout.

Here again all the words in number 1 aren’t needed in order to paint a picture of the setting. It’s boring because too many words are used to describe what few words can actually do. Not only that, but an auxiliary verb like ‘was’ only tells you about it. It doesn’t add to the picture. It takes away from it. Number 2 leaves you with a clear, strong picture in your mind.

Remember something though. When you’re writing your story, write your story. Concentrate on that. THEN, once you have your first draft finished, go back to the beginning and focus on the particulars and details like wordiness.

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