Writing Tips: You explain too much!

Too many modifiers spoils the broth

I have always considered myself a good writer (who hasn’t?),  so when I launched into my first novel, From Woodstock To Eternity, I had to stretch myself to write colorful, moving, and dramatic scenes.  I painted beautiful and enticing settings as the story progressed.  The action moved along quickly and decisively.  Finally, I created a masterpiece of rich, colorful settings that stirred the senses, brought you into the story, and made you wish Front Coveryou were there.

If you find nothing wrong with the first paragraph, you are like many readers who are unaware of the nuances of descriptive writing.  While my followers loved the story and said they could not put it down, I soon began receiving some reviews from professional editors who found fault with some of my techniques. I share with you the following:

Do not use multiple adjectives or adverbs

  • If you have three adjectives, cut out at least one.  In the paragraph above, with “colorful, moving and dramatic scenes,” cut out “moving” for “colorful and dramatic scenes.”  This actually gets to the point quicker and has more impact.
  • If you have two adjectives, consider cutting out one.  With “beautiful and enticing settings,” cut out “enticing” for “beautiful settings.”  This has the same effect.
  • For adverbs, “quickly and decisively,” just write “decisively.”
  • Agents and editors do not like the “ly” word.

The same rule applies to phrases

  • Instead of “Finally, I created a masterpiece of rich, colorful settings that stirred the senses, brought you into the story, and made you wish you were there.” just write “Finally, I created a masterpiece that made you wish you were there.”

 You get two benefits from these corrections.

  • Your story begins to snap.  Shorter sentences yield more movement and action.
  • Cutting is hard, but you have to do it.  Agents want manuscripts within a certain word count.  These techniques used throughout the book cut the word count considerably

Now read the edited version

  • I have always considered myself a good writer (who hasn’t?),  so when I launched into my first novel, From Woodstock To Eternity, I had to stretch myself to write colorful and dramatic scenes.  I painted beautiful settings as the story progressed, and the action moved along decisively.  Finally, I created a masterpiece that made you wish you were there.

I think that sounds better, but I never would have known it if I had not taken the knife to my story.

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