December 17, 2008

12 Days of Writing, Tip 3, Make it Count

Go to a grocery store or anywhere else and it seems that everyone is talking and talking. People everywhere are on the phone or texting. What do they have to talk about?

These days, talk is cheap - and plentiful. When it comes to writing, though, too much verbiage can be a problem.

Tip 3: Make Every Word Count

"Challenge every word," says Joanna Campbell Slan, author of PAPER, SCISSORS, DEATH (Midnight Ink).

"When I worked in advertising, we had so little space that I learned to 'challenge' every word, to ask each word, 'Can you be deleted or replaced?'

"In school, most of us pad to meet the assigned word length. Our papers are bloated with excess. We are rewarded for being verbose. That model is all wrong.

Unless you are being paid by the word, you should make every word pay its own way by being lean, clean and specific."

** Look for more tips for writers at Joanna's blog

-- Joanna Campbell Slan, author of PAPER, SCISSORS DEATH, A Kiki Lowenstein Scrap-N-Craft Mystery (Midnight Ink).

Kiki Lowenstein, scrapbooker, mother, killer? Now she must find who killed her husband - and his girlfriend - before the killer closes in on her.


  1. I'm usually a sparse writer, but not always on the first try. After I go back to a manuscript, I find the exact words I need to say what I mean.

    Morgan Mandel

  2. That is a great tip. Usually, I write whatever I want in the first draft, but in all subsequent drafts, I start trimming, doing just as you suggested.

  3. Great tip. When I was doing newspaper writing, I had a limit of 500 words. To cut down to that few of words was sometimes difficult, but I think I've become a better writer because of those articles.


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