Posted in Editing

Tightened Language

When you are writing a story, whether a book length story or a short story, be as clear in your language use as you can. Get rid of redundancies and use of too many words to tell or describe something, when a few words will suffice.

Too Wordy: Joe walked as slow as he possibly could on purpose because he knew it would make me angry.
Cleaned Up: Joe trudged down the path. He knew it would irritate me.

In the first sentence too many words are used to say what one word can do. By using the word trudge, we get a clearer picture of how slow Joe is walking without the extras. Then breaking it down into two sentences makes it easier to read.

Too Redundant and Excessive Language: The quarrelling couple downstairs worked my last nerve, I thought. The whole situation was making me angry to the point I wanted to go down stairs and tell them to stop.
Tightened Up: The quarrelling couple downstairs worked my last nerve. Hmm, maybe I’ll pound on their door and tell them to stop.

In the first sentence we don’t need the words I thought because we already know the character is thinking the words we just read. It’s one of those unwritten understandings. The reader just knows. That is what’s called excessive language. We also have redundant language in that sentence. The reader already knows the character is angry so the words, The whole situation was making me angry to the point…, is not needed.