At my creative writing course last month, because of time constraints, I only briefly mentioned being economical with words in our writing. A pity, because here stands a vital concept which all writers should know about and practise.

Why take 20 words to get across an idea, when 12 will do? By using more words than necessary, you’re in danger of not only boring the reader but also taking the vitality and immediacy out of your work.

In A Novel in a Year, successful novelist Louise Doughty advises writers, no matter of what calibre or experience, to pick a section of their own writing, do a word count, then cut down the number of words by one quarter. To begin with she suggests deleting adverbs, then adjectives. And of course, you’re not allowed to delete whole paragraphs.

I’d also suggest looking for redundant words or phrases and reviewing the structure of the entire sentence. But of course, as I said in my course (pun very much intended), you would as with grammar, spelling, editing etc, apply this concept only when you’ve written a first draft to your short story or novel. Not before. Otherwise, you’ll impede your creative flow.

Well, with this in mind, I wish you all happy writing!

Perhaps jut “Happy Writing!” would do? 🙂

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