The secret to good writing is less is most definitely more. You can do this by sharpening your prose and focusing on writing concisely. Keeping your sentence short keeps the pace of your book flowing, especially if you’re writing action scenes. Longer sentences slows the pace. But what else can a writer do to improve the readers’ enjoyment of their books or short stories?

Hunting out all unnecessary words will help the flow of your writing. You will be surprised by how many words we used that reinforce what we are already saying. Things like I’m starving to death. The word starve means to die of hunger. If you are starving, you’re close to death. So it is best to say I’m dying or starving here, the reader will know you’re dead.💀

Let’s empty our manuscript of pleonasms. Empty modifiers sap power from your words. Did you spot the one in my opening statement? It was a bit ridiculous😉 So what are the empty modifiers:

  • Very
  • almost
  • extremely
  • generally
  • usually
  • awfully
  • kind of
  • rather
  • more or less
  • for the most part
  • as a rule
  • somewhat

I’m sure you’ll know of a few more. Here’s something you can delete from your dialogue. Never use Um, hmm as hesitate or delay in speech. Yes, I know it’s something we all do when we speak, but when you’re writing dialogue, you could say: Julie hesitated before continuing. ‘Well, I guess I should’ve known that.’

When you’re editing, check the construction of your sentences and then think about what you’re trying to convey or the meaning you want your reader to understand. If we shorten this statement, We arrived at a decision to We decided. It has the same meaning with fewer words. A piece of advice I received a few years ago, which I always keep in mind while editing, is to remove two words from the front of a sentence and one from the end. Wordiness weakens the impact of your writing. 

It’s good to keep in mind and not to go overboard with eliminating words. Try replacing weak words with stronger ones or even turning your sentence around. i.e. Give your writing energy becomes Energise your writing

A question to keep in mind while editing is something your reader might ask, ‘Why are you telling me this?’ Check your manuscript for areas where you might be information dumping. Are you over describing things your reader knows? Does your reader need a blow-by-blow account of your character walking along or crossing the road unless it’s vital to the plot?.

Lose phrases such as ‘needless to say, as you know, obviously, of course, and especially, it goes without saying.

There’s a list of words we use together, when you only need one.

  • Absolutely certain. Let’s just say sure
  • Add up. Just Add
  • advance notice / Warning
  • balance out / balance
  • Blended together / you can use both these words on their own.
  • brief moment / both these words mean the same thing.
  • cancel out/ cancel
  • close down/ Close
  • completely engulf/ Engulf
  • fall down/ Fall
  • fatal suicide/ Suicide
  • Empty space/ Empty
  • end result / Result
  • deadly killer/ Killer
  • exact same / Same
  • drop down/ both these words mean the same thing.
  • Later on / Later
  • Kneel down/ Kneel
  • Known fact/ Fact
  • Sit down/ Sit
  • lift up/ Lift

These are just a few examples, I’m sure you can think of more, if not then check out William Brohaugh’s book Write Tight it’s a brilliant book for explaining how to keep your prose sharp, focused and concise. I consumed it when setting out on my writing journey.

Great chatting with you.


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