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Wordiness Part Two

            So the last time I talked about wordiness, it was in reference to scenes or paragraph which was what I did in my previous run-through of my novel, which is more so editing since I was taking out huge chunks. But now as I go through the simpler, less frustrating process of proofreading, I want to talk about those words and phrases that make a story wordy.

            The first time I spoke about this, I didn’t go over the phrases and types of words that make a novel or any story wordy. As I’m writing this though, I’m thinking about some of the stuff I read in my Lit class, particularly the stuff that Mary Shelly’s mother wrote. Talk about a modern editor’s nightmare. It’s full of redundancy, superfluous words, and all kinds of stuff that would make me throw a book across the room, but I that was in the Seventeenth century and the woman was trying to prove a point about the intelligence of women.

            In any case, repetitiveness is one of the things that can really cause a novel to be wordy. In my experience and as I was going through my novel, if you look at the beginning of your sentence and the end of your sentence, you may find redundancy. Many times it’s in those phrases like as a matter of fact, though, however, the reason, because of etc. These phrases or things that mean similar things to them or work in the way these phrases do are where I found most of my redundancies because they can be tagged at either the end or beginning of a sentence and sound good.

            I also found redundancies at the end and beginning of paragraphs. I would say something at the beginning of a paragraph and then say it again at the end. That comes from writing essays where I state my topic or thesis at the beginning and then have to restate it at the end. But in novels and in short paragraphs in particular, that isn’t necessary unless you do so on purpose. But many times, you’ll find that you did it unconsciously in trying to make sure you got your point across.

            Another place I found wordiness is in my verbs, particularly in the use of have, has, and had. I would say things like, She had been working all night in places where I could have easily said, She worked all night or She was working all night.  No in all those forms, the way those verbs are used can change that tense or the implication of the verb just slightly. For instance had been working can mean that she worked and is still working, while She worked all night is strictly past tense. But I was using had been or had something when I could have just used the past tense or a phrase that was equally shorter. It usually made for a much smoother read.

            There were also places where I described something and then said it again later. So for instance, in the beginning of my novel, I establish in some way that my character has dark brown hair. So that means I don’t have to say that she has dark brown hair again every time she runs a hand through her hair.

            I also don’t constantly have to remind the reader that someone is beautiful or even waste time on telling what my character is wearing every scene unless it’s relevant to the story. So while it’s not necessary to take all those references out, you don’t need to throw it in the reader’s face either, even if it is relevant.

            Also,  I have to talk about the adverbs. Now I've gotten good with not using those, but I seemed to like these three words a lot: suddenly, abruptly, finally, especially when I got towards the climax and battle scenes. It's not that adverbs are bad, but they usually can be replaced with stronger verbs and if you need an adverb, try using ones that don't end in -ly. In my case, the verbs I had were just fine and needed no adverbs to help build them up. So many of them were cut and those that weren't, I might go cut anyway and find a stronger verb to help.

            So this was just some of the things I observed when I was editing and that I will certainly be on the lookout for as I proofread. But no more tweaking the story thankfully. The story and structure are solid. Not to practice writing queries…

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