From first draft through fourth, I cut 18,000 words. Believe me, those words needed to go. When it comes to slicing and dicing a manuscript, here are some lesson I've learned:
- Like Hitchcock said, "A good story is life with the dull parts taken out." If I reached a spot in my manuscript that I wanted to skim over, I deleted it.
- If a scene added nothing to the story, I deleted it.
- Each character must serve a purpose. James Scott Bell reminds us that supporting characters should be there as allies or irritants to the MC. If not, bye bye. It's also possible to combine characters.
- Don't say, "She watched him race toward her" when we can say, "He raced toward her." We know we're seeing it through the narrator's eyes. Tough lesson for me.
- Use strong verbs to cut down word count and strengthen the story. "He was running" becomes "He ran."
- Keep description to a minimum. I love pretty words describing pretty scenes, but sometimes I get carried away.
- Don't bang the reader over the head with a point. I'm guilty of this, and don't even notice it sometimes. (Thank you, critique group)
Trimming fat improves pacing. When cutting words, Roz Morris says we must tune in to the rhythm of our story. Slicing and dicing isn't always easy, but it'll make the remaining words more powerful.
Can you add something to the list? What do you slice and dice from your manuscripts?