Nancy's Books

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Writing Tight/Contest

We writers often fall in love with our words. We don’t want to change phrases in narrative or dialog because we like the way they sound. We like the characters and the situations we’ve created. If we change the words, we’ve changed the story. Deciding what text to remove is a difficult decision for me, but as hard as it may be, I cut words in every manuscript I write.

In my flower garden I clip, trim, snip, and prune plants. I tug away weeds and deadhead flowers. What remains is a garden that it looks better with healthier plants. I have a clearer view of the flowers because I’m not looking around and between weeds. As with my garden, when I trim the excess from my literary pieces, I present a clearer view of the characters and plot. After cutting words, the writing is tighter and more concise.

So how do we know which words to whack?

Adjectives and adverbs, those sneaky “ly” words. Use strong nouns and verbs so your writing won’t have to depend on adjectives and adverbs. The phrase, “Ran quickly,” uses an adverb. A stronger verb—trot, darted, or dashed—doesn’t need a modifier to paint a vivid picture.

Description. If we describe in grand, sprawling detail, we sometime lose focus of the plot and the reader loses interest in the story. Some description is necessary; too much dulls the story.

Dialog serves two purposes: to develop the characters or push the plot forward. Read the dialog carefully. You’ll probably find words that serve no purpose. Remove them.

Redundancy. Look for sections in which you’ve already given the information to the reader. If it doesn’t need to be repeated, whack it.

Chop away unnecessary sections as you paint your story with words an editor will love. In doing so, you'll sow the seeds for a contract.

Contest This web site features family-friendly read-aloud stories for children and is sponsoring a writing contest. Entries can be fiction or nonfiction of up to 2500 words for children up to age 12 (suggested themes: holiday, inspirational, embarrassing situations, humor, adventure, love, family). Entrants must be at least 18 years old and can submit as many stories as they'd like. No entry fee. All entries must be in English, original, unpublished, and not submitted or accepted elsewhere at the time of submission. Short-Story-Time reserves exclusive electronic rights to publish the submissions on the web site in print, video and audio formats credited to the author. Entrants must submit their stories electronically by filling out the form at
Deadline September 15, 2010.


  1. Great blog post Nancy! Thank you for sharing the information on writing tight.

    I'll check out the contest information. I think I have a couple of stories I'd like to submit.

  2. Free contests are a great way to get published and to build a resume'.