3 Simple Ways to Cut Words from your Manuscript

No one wants their book to be a slow read, and one of the easiest ways to pick up the pace is to to cut unnecessary words.

But how do you know which ones are unnecessary?

After all, you put them there, so obviously they should be there, right?

Not always.

Today, I’m sharing some tips to help you de-clutter your manuscript and produce a gripping, fast-paced book.

1. There was/were or There is/are

If you run a search in word and find a lot of instances of these phrases in your novel, this is a huge way to cut extra words and improve flow.

Ex.: If it says:
There was a wooden table in the corner. There was a glowing book on top of it. (17 words spread out over 2 sentences)

Instead, try something like:
A glowing book rested upon the wooden table in the corner. (11 words, 1 sentence)

See? That reads so much smoother and faster. All because we cut 6 words and combined choppy sentences into a single sentence.

It works for showing emotion, too.

Ex. If it says:
There are tears shining in his eyes.

Try saying:
Tears shine in his eyes.

From 7 words to 5, with better flow.

2. Honestly, a lot of instances of “is/are/were/was” can be cut.

Rearranging the sentences you find them in can really be helpful.

Ex.: “A sick feeling is creeping into my stomach.” This can be shortened to, “A sick feeling creeps into my stomach.”

Sure, that only cuts a single words, but the sentence also becomes very active. And if you have a lot of sentences with is/are/was/were, this can save you a lot of words and really improve the readability of your book.

3. Right vs Left

I know it feels important to mention which hand is doing what or which foot someone puts forward first, but it really isn’t. In most instances, which side of the room something is on also doesn’t affect the plot, and thus, these words can (for the most part) be removed.

Just be careful. Don’t blindly delete them entirely from your Word document, because they have other uses.

And there you have it. Three easy tips to cut unnecessary words from your book.

Keep reading. Keep writing.


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