How to Cut Thousands of Words Without Shedding a Tear

How to Cut Thousands of Words Without Shedding a Tear Strategies for Writers, part 3 of 3 Is your book too long? Does it feel a bit wordy, perhaps slightly bloated? Or . . . does it feel perfect but it’s a little high in word count? There comes a time in every writer’s life when they need to reduce their word count. Ack! Not my precious words! Even if your word count is fine, most writers would benefit from tightening up their manuscripts before submission. (I, for one, would appreciate it.) But how do you do this? Most writers can significantly shorten their manuscript simply by eliminating extraneous adverbs, adjectives, gerunds, and passive verbs, i.e. things you don’t need anyway. If you cut 10 words per page in a 350-page manuscript, you’ve already shortened it by 3,500 (unnecessary) words. So how do we do this?...
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Word Counts: My Aha Moment Lately I’ve been incorporating interval training into my workouts. When I’m at the gym, I use the interval setting on the treadmill. When I’m outside jogging with Reagan and my iPod, I alternate a faster and slower pace. Since it’s annoying to look at my watch, I use music to time my intervals. I might jog for two songs, run fast for one song. Or something like that. So yesterday I was musing on the fact that it’s easy to use music to structure my run, since all the songs are roughly between three and four minutes. There are a few exceptions, but mostly, popular music consists of songs of a consistent length. That’s when it hit me: Popular music consists of songs of a certain length. Popular movies fall within a certain range of lengths. TV shows have...
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How Long is Your Book?

The question of “how long your manuscript should be” is sometimes hard to answer because different publishers have different guidelines. I’m going to give you some information here, but first I want you to know WHY this is important. It’s pretty simple: If your book falls within the standard preferred word-count range, it’s one less reason for it to be rejected. It takes the question of “length” completely off the table as an issue. Now the decisions can be made based on your writing and whether your book is a fit for that publishing house. (And that’s what you want, right?) If you are outside the normal range, it’s one more obstacle on your road to publication. That will also affect whether agents will want to represent it. The more...
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