You forgot to write tight. This is a small thing but it packs a punch with today’s readers. Why is this important? It’s important for several reasons. Today’s readers don’t want to read wordy descriptions. Those days are gone! Why describe something in two or three words when you can say they same thing with one word? Just how do you write tight?
For an example, let’s take the sentence, “Jan stood up.” What’s wrong here? When you stand you go up. You don’t stand down. So, just how do you fix this sentence? Try cutting out the word “up.” You’re saying the same thing. Don’t you see Jan standing up? It’s the same with the sentence, “Keira shrugged her shoulders.” How can you fix this one? Simple, just cut out the words “her shoulders.” After all, you don’t shrug your knees or toes, do you?
How else can you write tight? Cut that phrase out of your story that doesn’t move the story forward. If it doesn’t help your story, it’s not needed.
Don’t repeat words several times in a paragraph. You never hear kids calling each other by their names every time they open their mouths.
Make your tags short and sweet. Make your manuscript sound as natural as possible without being wordy. Instead of having your sentence read, “Robby come here.” How about, “Hey, come here, shouted James. He hung out the door gesturing to Robby. See what I did? The tag line for the speech is “shouted James.” That’s all. The descriptive sentence comes after that so your reader can see James hanging out the door shouting and gesturing to Robby.
Cut out most of those “ly” words. This helps! It makes you search for a stronger adjective that brings the readers senses into action. Doing this also help with the flow of the story. It doesn’t jerk the reader around which is a big no-no in writing for both children and adults.
As I mentioned above, you want to engage all five senses. Find words that help your readers to see, feel, and experience what the hero or heroine do.
Focus on the subject of your story or article. If you find phrases or sentences (or even paragraphs) there that don’t have anything to do with the subject, cut it. This will automatically help you write tight. It will also make your manuscript a more enjoyable read and help the word count in the process!
Writing tight is also great for your word count. Most publishers don’t manuscripts for picture books to go over 1,000 words. Then again, I’ve seen some publishing houses where the guidelines don’t want more than 500 words.
I’ve found two great books to help you learn this. I’ve also found good websites that will help demonstrate ‘writing tight’ better.
Word Magic for Writers by Cindy Rogers
WRITE TIGHT: SAY EXACTLY WHAT YOU MEAN by William Brohaugh
15 Ways To Write Tight
Write Tight Site
Writing Tight: Making Every Sentence Count
How To Write Tight-Self Editing Tips To Make Your Manuscript Ready For Publication