Thursday, April 28, 2016

X is for Excess Words

Okay, "excess" doesn't really start with an X, but it sounds like it does! Close enough?

One issue many beginning writers seem to have (as well as some experienced writers!) is using two words when one will do; ten where two will do, etc. For instance, consider this sentence:

"She rose from her chair to a stand, then walked out the door of the room." It works much better as, "She rose and walked out the door." We don't need "from her chair" because, if the author has done his job right, we already know she's sitting in a chair, not on the floor or a bed, so the only place she can rise from is that chair. Similarly, "to a stand" is unnecessary because it's the only thing you can rise to from a seated position. And "of the room" isn't needed, since it's implied in "walked out the door."

Other ways to avoid wordiness include using contractions, streamline descriptions, use your thesaurus to find the one word that says what you mean, make your action segments tight with a minimum of description that slows down the pace.

Today's Tarot deck is the Cosmic Tarot. Here are a couple of sample cards from the deck:


Images courtesy of Aeclectic Tarot

I asked when I was most likely to get wordy; in other words, what type of scene would make me babble? The card I drew was The Hermit, and luckily enough, I was able to post a picture of that card above. 

The Hermit indicates isolation and solitude, which I'd take to mean I'm most likely to get wordy when I'm writing alone, with no one to proofread and call me on too many words. But it also can mean wisdom, and with that wisdom can come a feeling of cleverness, thinking you're smarter than everyone else.  Believing your own writing is exquisite is probably the most likely time I'm wordy! So I'll have to work on being humble.


Jemima Pett said...

The best way for me to sort wordiness out is to work to a real limit - so flash fiction to a hard 1000 limit is often a 1200 word piece that I just have to cut down. Some cuts are hard - but it's always better for it!

Jemima Pett

Elizabeth Delisi said...

It sure is tough to cut your own precious words. Feels like insulting a friend! But it's usually necessary.