Bird Face Wendy

Things relevant to reading, writing, publishing or marketing teen fiction.

A Few Words

on November 27, 2012

I’ve wondered if writers who talk a lot are the folks who write long manuscripts. Like those over 100,000 words.

Me? I’m similar to my protagonist, Wendy.  I don’t care to talk much unless I have something of consequence to say (in my opinion). I avoid the phone. I don’t reach out to friends or family regularly, just to chew the fat.

Predictably, my manuscript for Bird Face was only around 35,000 words.  Yet some areas were too wordy, editors said, and I agree with that assessment. Why was the manuscript afflicted so?

Because when I do speak or write, I tend to over explain each point, as though my listener or reader won’t readily absorb this important information. Or I repeat the same thought later in a different way. Or use prepositional phrases when simpler language will do. I am also guilty of using “that” when it isn’t needed for clarification.

I was frightened by the prospect of trimming words from Bird Face. Its word count already bordered the edge of acceptability for its genre. But a little miracle happened. Each time I tightened my writing, other opportunities for improvement and increased word count presented themselves. More action, better dialogue, further character development. Did I finally recognize those needs because the clutter of unnecessary words had been swept away?

I think so.


7 responses to “A Few Words

  1. happygret says:

    Correlation is completely true for me. I am verbose with a long manuscript.


  2. However, your admission is succinct. 🙂


  3. I’ve been told that I’m concise and get to the point when I’m chatting or explaining stuff. As a kid, I watched a prideful family member, who loved to hear his own voice, talk people’s ears off. I could see the recipient’s eyes glazing over with disinterest as my family member rambled on. This caused me to make sure I didn’t do the same. And I think this is true for my writing, too. It’s to the point and fast paced. 🙂


  4. Thanks for the insight into the root of your brevity. 🙂


  5. joykieffer says:

    It’s nice to hear that someone understands! Wait, did I need that that? Thank you for having the nerve to express this. We sound exactly alike.

    As an artist, I know that one can go too far and kill a painting by over-working it, and so for that reason, I let my first novel stay as is after the third draft and a run-by with a professional editor, and have let it go into the hands of publishers. I’m writing the sequel lean and fast, and at first glance it looks terrific. but I know that the second and third draft will be better for all the reasons you listed.

    If only I could edit what comes out of my mouth three times before it hits air, I might be more verbose.


  6. Rather than edit my post, I’d like to point out that “over explain” should be one word. I do that a lot–break apart what should be a compound word. See? More words than necessary. 🙂


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