Monday, February 22, 2010

Less IS More...

We all do it. We type a lot of fluff words into our sentences that we don't even realize that we're doing. We slap down those words that you, the reader, want to see.

If you don't believe me, go back and read the previous paragraph and remove one word I used three times. In case you didn't guess which word -- that.

Yes, 'that' is a fluff word many authors use vigorously to up the word count and sadly, can lessen the impact. If you re-read the first paragraph without 'that' in the sentences you would notice it read tighter and cleaner.

How bad can it get? I read a newbie's story -- okay, one of my old, OLD stories when I first starting writing -- and I found I had on an average about 3-5 superfluous words per page. 'Why that's not too many,' you think. And THAT is what you think! In a 250 page manuscript, it would equal between 750-1250 extra words.

I know, I know. Words are $$$$$. BUT... It's not money if you don't sell the story. A clean, tight, well thought out and written story sells in the higher priced market. Let's calculate the differences.

a) 8000 words X $.02 = $160.00

Remove 1000 superfluous 'that' words for a higher market sale...

b) 7000 words X $.10 = $700.00
c) 7000 words X $.07 = $490.00
d) 7000 words X $.06 = $420.00
e) 7000 words X $.03 = $210.00

Maybe some of you didn't notice the last couple of calculations. The last one (e) is exactly ONE PENNY above the higher (a) word count sale. Yes, it was 'only' $50 more, but, the bottom line here is, it was probably a better market and a nicer feather in the bonnet or hat. Plus, for me $50 in MY pocket is better than $50 in SOMEBODY else's pocket.

Funny what a penny can mean and do...

So, what other superfluous words can you think of to tighten your writing?


  1. Well, I have living proof my internal editor is seeing 'that' cause I saw them all as I was reading and wondering how you missed them :)

    Great point!

  2. @Denny: Thanks.
    @Chris: Yes, it took everything I had to type those words. I cringe now when I see a 'that' in a sentence. I'm even wanting to go up and edit what I've put out. [shakes head, seeing a flaw] The editor in me is killing my speed writing. I could slap down 1200-2000 words in no time. Now? I'm lucky I even get started.

    Thanks to both for the comments.

  3. Bob, thanks so much for your comment on our blog. Great idea! Hope you stop by often. Karen