Leo's Angel Oak Tree

Thursday, April 7, 2011

F IS FOR FAT!

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.

CUTTING THE FAT TIPS: USE THIS, NOT THAT!

*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!

5 comments:

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

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

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  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

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  4. Yay for cutting the fat!!!

    Loved this post!

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  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!

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