There are very few writers who come up with a ‘tightened up’ first draft. Most writers would pour in words that are not so important. Sentences are often constructed in a manner that they appear to be stretched. When you can make your point in fewer words, is there any need to bulk it up?
To become a successful writer, you would have to understand the concept of tightening up a piece. Tightening up is not the same as editing. It is similar to losing the extra pounds of weight. When you can be healthy and more desirable at a hundred and fifty pounds, why carry the extra forty or fifty odd pounds in your waist?
Here’s how you can tighten up what you have written.
• Do away with useless or insignificant words. Every writer has a habit of using certain words, rather generously. These words are not always unnecessary but at times they are in a story by the virtue of how a writer writes. Do away with all such words. You may find a few on every page or several. They all must be deleted. If those words cannot be deleted, then try to be concise. Replace two words with one or a phrase with just one word.
• Whenever you find long sentences, think of a way to cut them short. Say the same thing, establish the same essence and have the same tone or effect, but with fewer words. Many writers indulge in unnecessarily long passive sentences. Avoid them. In any case, passive voice is much less effective than active voice and the latter takes much fewer words to write.
• When you don’t find a suitable word to describe an emotion, action or situation, you will end up using several words to communicate. But when you revise, you can always research and find a word that would sum up what you wish to say. This exercise will end up doing away with several hundred and often thousands of words.
• Don’t let the narrator in you come into play and take the story into a long-drawn description or info dump. Let the actions talk. Don’t let the narrator in you get control over the writer in you.
• Do away with all parts of your story that are repetitive. You don’t have to mention the same facts, give the same backdrop and introduce concepts again and again.
• Don’t go overboard with back-story. If you have a lengthy back-story in the first draft, edit it to make it crisp and precise, without diluting the impact.
Hope this helps in your efforts for concise writing. Need I say more?
Image by Dmitrijs Dmitrijevs – from Bigstock