Keep it Concise

Although you might want to see as thick a spine as possible on the novel you’re writing, there is such a thing as being too verbose. Overly complicated or flowery speech can ruin a book’s readability. While you might be striving for descriptiveness, you should not fall into the trap of ending up with a piece that is 75% adjectives. Nor should you go out of your way to explain what something looks like without making sure there isn’t a single word that can accomplish getting across to your reader what you want them to understand.

 

Anytime you can replace ten words with one you should. Let’s look at some examples of how we can trim the fat off wordy sentences.

She stepped up onto the deck with a lurching motion, her eye catching on the metal-like gleam of the anchor where it hung suspended in the air from the front of the boat, sitting on a plastic, cylindrical device shaped like a warped rolling pin.

Doing your research is important. With a little rewording and a quick Google search, we can make this sentence much more streamlined.

She stepped up onto the deck with a lurch, her eye catching on the metallic gleam of the anchor where it hung suspended from the bow roller.

See how much less awkward that sounds? It is still a descriptive sentence, but it has taken on a new elegance.

 

Here are some ungainly phrases that should always be avoided.

The red-colored sail flapped in the wind.

Red-colored? Why not just ‘red?! 

The spherically-shaped lantern was rusted from the salt spray.

Same thing here. Why not just ‘spherical’? There is a word for that shape for a reason.

The liquid was oil-like, the pool of it spreading across the deck.

There is a word for this as well. How about ‘the pool of oily liquid’?

The skipper stuttered in a disbelieving manner.

The skipper could have saved his breath and ‘stuttered in disbelief’.

She squinted her eyes at the horizon.

We know what someone means when they say squinted. We don’t need to be told that eyes were involved.

She nodded her head at what the captain had said.

Similarly, this is usually overkill. The captain wouldn’t have been upset with her if she had just nodded.

It resembled somewhat of a marina, but there were no docks.

We already know that it resembles, not that it actually is, so we can drop the somewhat and leave it just as ‘resembled a marina’.

His walk came to a halt when he saw the dinghy.

That must have been some dinghy, but when he saw it he probably just ‘came to a halt’. He might have even just ‘halted’.

 

I could go on and on, but I digress. Let’s just keep things simple so when you’re looking at a book with your eyes and attempting a reading-like activity, you can limit the number of frustrated sighing-sounds you have to make in an angry manner.

In other words, keep it simple, shipmate.

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