Polishing Writing

I’m up to the polishing stage of my novel and, provided nothing goes wrong, I will be ready to query afterwards. I’m taking a chapter at a time and combing it for inefficient turns of phrase or unnecessary words. So far I’ve been able to remove about two hundred words from every chapter, which is something I need since I’m hoping to cut ten thousand words off the overall count. I’m not very far in, because it’s taking me a long time.

Here are some words/phrasing I try to remove:

  • “Really”
  • “Probably”
  • “That” in most instances
  • words that make my characters sound non-committal when they’re supposed to be confident
  • multiple adverbs modifying the one verb
  • unnecessary adverbs
  • repeated words
  • dialogue tags where it’s clear who is speaking and the speaker hasn’t been standing around doing nothing for too long
  • unnecessary dialogue just there to break up narration or interrupt a speaker, unless the dialogue also serves another purpose such as creating conflict or injecting appropriate humour
  • turns of phrase that can be written with fewer words in a different, less complicated way
  • overuse of character names. This one isn’t as much about cutting down words as it is trying to make the whole thing sound less awkward

I’m sure others will come to mind later on as I approach them.

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