Are you an over-writer? Is your novel extremely long and full of lots of information or detail? Some authors have the unfortunate problem of using tons of adjectives, adverbs, and/or filler words throughout their novels. This can be troublesome because a lengthy novel with too much description can slow pacing and/or frustrate readers. How do you go about shortening your novel during the editing phase? Read on for my top three tips.
*Note: I recommend not worrying about your word count until you've finished writing the first draft of your novel. It's better to overwrite then and edit later. This way you have a clear idea of your novel's theme and therefore a better idea of what scenes, chapters, and/or characters to cut.
-Be Selective: Your goal should be to eliminate anything that doesn't support your story or that isn't important. Revisit descriptions of your settings and characters. If it takes five to ten pages to describe your character's house or their grandmother's quirks then you've written too much. Readers want to use their imagination and come to their own conclusions. Therefore, make it your goal to give readers just the basics and cut anything that isn't important to the scene or that will tie back into the story later.
-Evaluate & Analyze: Are there scenes or chapters that you can shorten and combine into one? As you read over your novel, do you find lengthy info dumps that interrupt your novel's action and slow the pace? Have you used language that's too flowery or elaborate? To eliminate these problem areas try sprinkling just the important details throughout your novel and not dumping everything on the reader all at once. Also, use figurative language sparingly.
-Get Out Your Red Pen: The majority of writers, myself included, tend to have an excessive amount of adjectives, adverbs, and/or filler words in their first draft. I recommend printing out your manuscript and reading through it with a red pen. Try to get rid of filler words, replace or eliminate unnecessary dialogue tags, and cut back on the number of adjectives and adverbs you have.
*Tip: Critique partners and beta readers can help with this process! Ask them to read over your novel and make suggestions on areas where you could use fewer words to get your point across.
I hope this blog post was helpful in helping you shorten your novel. If you have any other questions, or additional tips, please leave them in the comments down below!