or How To Cut The Fat Out Of Your WIP (Part 2 of 2)

By Gina Conroy


Resist the Urge to Explain (RUE)

In an effort to make my character’s motivations clear, I often tried to explain them through internal dialogue, external dialogue or both. Then I started asking myself “Does the reader need to know this now?” If the answer was no, I cut it and looked for a shorter way to weave in the motivation later. I learned, most times it was unnecessary. I had packed the scene enough that I believe the reader understood without me telling them.

Pick Your Adverbs, Adjectives, and Conjunctions Carefully

Most times, if your writing is strong, you don’t need many adverbs and adjectives. Sometimes you do. I noticed my adjectives would sometimes come in pairs. That’s when I chose one over the other. When it comes to starting a sentence, I seem to favor AND and BUT. I’m not sure why, but now that I know, I can go back and keep the conjunctions that add to the story. And I’m not talking word count.

Get Rid of Prepositions
Trying to cut those last 8,000 had me looking closer at my sentence structure and prepositions. I learned by cutting out some prepositions I could save two words. For example. Instead of “the pieces of the telescope” I could say, “the telescope’s pieces.” With the search and find feature, I could track down these pesky prepositions and send them packing.

Cut the Scene Short

I like to wrap up a scene sometimes with a cliff hanger, often times with internal dialogue. But I found that if I cut the last sentence or two from the scene, it still works. Often times it was better.

Contractions are Your Friend

This might not work for time period pieces, but since mine WIP was a contemporary, anywhere I could use a contraction, I did. Unless your character is “proper” or foreign, most people talk in contractions anyway.

Editing our babies is one of the hardest things we do as authors, but it’s necessary especially if you’re contracted for 20,000 words and have a story that’s 56,000 words. So did I get my word count down? I knew my anthology partners were a little shy of their word count so I did go a bit over…and got a note back I needed to cut another 700. How did I do it? By going back through the list above.

How do you get your word count down and what techniques have you found to make it easier?


Gina Conroy used to think she knew where her life was headed; now she’s leaning on the Lord to show her the way. She is the founder of Writer…Interrupted where she mentors busy writers and tries to keep things in perspective, knowing God’s timing is perfect, even if she doesn’t agree with it! 😉 She is represented by Chip MacGregor of MacGregor Literary, and her first novella, Buried Deception, in the Cherry Blossom Capers Collection, released from Barbour Publishing in January 2012. On her blog Defying Gravity and twitter she chronicles her triumphs and trials as she pursues her dreams while encouraging her family and others to chase after their own passions. Gina loves to connect with readers, and when she isn’t writing, teaching, or driving kids around, you can find her on Facebook and Twitter.

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