Since 2012 I’ve self-published two books, Into the Deep, and its sequel Hidden Beneath, both young adult paranormal romances. There are a number of things I learned after I finished Into the Deep. But now, as I get ready to publish my third book, I find my writing is worlds apart from where it was in 2012. In March, I will publish my third book, A Different Kind, through Phantom Owl Press.
I’ve gained skills in marketing, cover design, as well as overall understanding of the publishing process. However, I think the place where I’ve most improved has been my writing itself. Creating stories has always come easy to me. I’d like to think the stories I’ve created over the years have been good ones, if not great ones. But, my ability to tell those stories has greatly improved.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned from self-publishing is how to remove wordy writing.
It’s hard to read through your novel and “cut the fat”. But, while it may hurt to pull out the red pen, it’s absolutely necessary. Recently I made a post on my blog, Words to Search and Destroy in your Manuscript, where I talk about specific words that when used often lead to wordy writing. In general, wordiness comes from using any words that you don’t absolutely need.
One word that isn’t on my “Search and Destroy” list is the word “that”. This word in particular is one that I’ve been aggressively removing from my next novel.
Tips to Removing Wordy Writing
1. Take a break between finishing your novel and starting your revisions. Getting a little distance from your writing will help you see where you have problems.
2. Pay special attention to areas that you had trouble writing. I find my writing gets wordier in the areas I apply the “butt in chair” method to. In other words, the parts I push through just to keep writing are often the wordier parts of my novel.
3. Avoid passive writing. This is something you should be doing anyway, but I find passive writing tends to be wordier than active writing.
Here’s an example from my second book Hidden Beneath
This is the original passage from 2013.
“I loved you more than anything.” His voice was firm and unwavering.
I looked away from him as his words hit me with the weight of a wrecking ball, but he reached out and palmed my face, turning me back to him. His eyes locked on mine.
“I loved you,” he said again, and I felt the tears stream down my face. “Dammit, Ivy, I still love you.”
The next thing I knew his lips were smashed against mine in a hard, bruising kiss. Tears were spilling from my crushed-shut eyelids, and I was kissing him back. His hand, which previously had been palming my face, was now tightly grasping my hair, and his other hand had a rough grip on my arm. It felt like I had been waiting a thousand years for that kiss, and in that moment not even the need to breathe could have pulled us apart. My hands were around Brant’s neck, and I tugged at his hair. My body was arching to reach his. I forgot about getting hurt - all I wanted was to feel him again.
This is what I would do now.
“I loved you more than anything.” His voice was firm,
I looked away
from him as his words hit me with the weight of a wrecking
ball. but He reached out, and palmed my face,
and turned turning
me back to
him. His eyes locked on mine.
“I loved you,” he said again
, and I felt the
tears stream down my face. “Dammit, Ivy, I still love you.”
I hope everyone found this post helpful. I think it’s important as writers to know that there’s always room to grow. Wordiness is something a lot of readers will overlook, but being able to catch it as a writer will lead to a stronger story.