Monday, January 19, 2009

Make Every Word Count

Make every word count...

Here lately I’ve been reading a lot of work that is just too full of words. I mean I’m all for adverbs and adjectives, but when you write a sentence please writer’s, make every word count.

You might ask what I mean? Well okay.

Ex: She walked down the darkened path on her way home from school which she knew was against her mothers wishes.

Can you pick out the unnecessary words in that sentence? Can you restructure that sentence to pack a powerful punch for the reader?

Against her mother’s wishes, she walked the (no need for down) darkened path. One, two punch. I eliminated a bunch of words and the sentence comes off as more powerful.

By writing the longer sentence and in essence feeding your muse, I’m wondering if you are writing to the reader or to yourself? Are you writing to satisfy your eye? Consider why you are writing so many words in a sentence. Are you fulfilling a need of telling the story to its fullness? Are you trying to impress yourself? Well cut it out!

I mean it, literally! Stop writing for you and start writing for your reader.

Pick powerful verbs that can convey the message that you want to get across instead of using filler adjectives to carry your sentence.

Make sure you use action verbs that represent the powerful action in a sentence. A strong action word can bring the reader home to the point that you’re trying to make.

I am not a fan of adjectives and I try not to use many prepositions either. (I overuse, so, now, and then) UGH!

I’m getting better. I need to show you the writer that every word counts in a sentence. I need you to re-read your work before posting it at a writing workshop and definitely before you send it off for a publisher to take a peek at. You’ll be thankful that you did.

The rules of the game? Make every word have a purpose! If it has no purpose, omit it and see if the sentence still reads properly. If it reads properly and you can do this throughout a five-hundred word piece, then you can narrow down the word count to 250, meaning you can write another 250 words to make the 500 mark. Or whatever mark you’re reaching for. :-)

Now get writing and show me something worth reading. I don’t want any more excuses why your 500-word piece has over 100 adverbs, adjectives, and prepositions! Get to cutting and you’ll have a story worth publishing!

Check out the Sentence Structure links to the left. A GREAT tool in making the most out of your words.


Transparent J said...


It's so hard to cut out the 'important things'... I always try to remember, who are they important to?!

My friend and professional author David Teems wrote a long e-mail one time and at the end he wrote "sorry I didn't have time to make this shorter." It takes MUCH more effort to make your ideas concise.

David wrote a post for my magazine awhile ago called "The Duty of Poets". It's mandatory reading for anyone that wants to post Transparent Christian Magazine.

It fits perfectly for your topic:

joni said...

Thanks Jason!

I've seen so many people who have the talent to write overuse too many words. I like nice,tight,clear concise words.
I'd rather see comma's than an overuse of adverbs. :-)

Thanks for visiting.