Leo's Angel Oak Tree

Thursday, April 7, 2011


The letter F stands for the FAT, and learning how to cut it from your manuscript.  If your looking for ways to edit down your manuscript to a more appropriate word count, here are some small steps to take that will make HUGE impact.


*START WITH THE SMALL STUFF:  This means the adverbs, adjectives, unnecessary dialogue tags, repetitive words and phrases, and the tedious action sequences (blow-by-blow details).

1. ADJECTIVES: Don't use more than one adjective per noun.
Use This: The cocoa colored chihuahua...         
Not That: The short, brown, pointy-eared dog...

2. ADVERBS: Instead of an adverb, use a stronger verb. 
Use This: The girl panted.                            
Not That: The girl exhaled intensely.

3. AVOID OVERUSING DIALOGUE TAGS: If the reader can tell who's speaking, you don't need a dialogue tag!

4. DON'T OVEREXPLAIN ACTIONS.  We don't need a blow-by-blow account of everything.
Use This: I slammed the car door.                
Not That: I waltzed to the car, opened the door, and slammed it shut.

This is usually what I do first when cutting the fat. A valuable lesson I learned from a fabulous author friend and one of my awesome critique partners who butchered my manuscript. I have cut at least 10-15% of the MS already! I will include more cutting the fat tips in future posts, so stay tuned!


  1. I like it...I'd love to read more about cutting the fat.

  2. Excellent advice. Cutting is often so much harder than writing it in the first place!

  3. I agree with Angeline that cutting the fat is more difficult than writing.

    Most of the elements outlined here are pretty small compared to the large amounts of fat that I realize I have to cut from one of my screenplays.

    It's way too long so I am going to have to make some major cutbacks....getting rid of characters and probably some entire scenes or at the very least, shortening the scenes.

    The Madlab Post

  4. Yay for cutting the fat!!!

    Loved this post!

  5. Don't worry, Nicole. I will be doing another cutting the fat blog on some of the bigger things. I had to cut full chapters and scenes, too, so I feel the hurt. Stay tuned for more fat cutting!