After settling into a steady routine of catching up on things that I had neglected, I sorted through some articles and reports I had collected and saved for later use. One article in particular caught my eye. Glad I found it because it contains some very helpful information.
Below is the article, as written by Missy in the Writers Journal.
Whacking Away at Word Count
Written by Missy on
You’ve written a story you believe would be a perfect fit for a contest or publication. However, the story’s word count exceeds the guideline. Do you give up? Or would you try to find a way to shorten the word count? The March/April issue of Writers Journal addresses this dilemma.
Here are some tips MaryAnn Duffy suggests to help reduce word count without sacrificing important content:
- Delete expendable words such as
- to be verb construction
- relative pronouns such as who, which, that
- articles: the, a
- prepositions such as of, for, at, in, by, etc.
- sentences starting with pronouns: There is (are, were), it is
- Eliminate obvious modifiers
“Comparative adverbs such as very or more not only can be sacrificed without losing meaning but probably should be eliminated.”
- Use punctuation instead of words
“You murdered him, didn’t you?” vs “You murdered him?”
- Make use of possessives
“The logo of the rodeo is considered a classic.” vs “The rodeo’s logo is classic.”
- Use a command
“Even if your personal feelings differ, you should behave professionally.” vs. “Behave professionally, regardless of your feelings.”
- Keep sentence structure simple
“The simplest sentence is an independent clause — a subject and a predicate.” Avoid complex sentences.
Personally, I’ve used most of these suggestions for a while now. I certainly wish I had read this article long ago; it might have saved me a lot of headache. Of course, learning the hard way seems to make the lessons stick.