Posted by: nancycurteman | November 12, 2016

How to Avoid Wordy Writing

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Wordy writing, sometimes called overwriting, can destroy a good plot by drowning it in excessive detail, repetition, stilted speech and redundancy. Overwriting stops story action. Simplicity is the key to avoiding wordy writing. That’s not to say vivid descriptions and skillful phrasing aren’t important, they have their place in your novel but use them sparingly. Here are some suggestions to avoid wordy writing:

•Limit your adjectives and adverbs. Good writers use strong nouns and verbs.
•Avoid overuse of participles (words ending in ‘ing’). Use them to vary sentence structures but in moderation.
•Write realistic dialogue. Don’t write character conversations that are stilted or too formal. Dialogue should consist of short sentences and sentence fragments pared with interruptions, beats, actions and some tags when needed for clarity.
•Metaphors and similes can enhance a story but too many will derail a reader from the basic plot. Use metaphors and similes when you want to make an important point only.
•Don’t use needlessly complex words or phrases. Stick to plain, easy-to-follow language. Readers are not interested in your Thesaurus.
•Use only enough technical and historical event descriptions to enable your readers to gain a feel for your plot. Don’t bury them in forgettable vocabulary and background.
•Use only as much description as is relevant to your plot. Don’t embellish or wax poetic. Include only what’s needed to paint a picture of your character or setting.
•Don’t use two or three descriptors when one will do.
•Don’t drown your reader in long detailed backstory for every character.
• Describe location as part of the point-of-view character’s experience, not as a separate author narrative.

Avoid wordy writing and opt for simplicity. Your readers will thank you.

More Tips:

10 Ways Details Can Spice Up Your Writing

6 Ways to Avoid “Information Dumps” in a Mystery Novel


  1. Well done Nancy. You used only one “the” in your blog. I like it. “The’s” are so over used in our speech.


    • Good point. People do overuse “the” in their writing.


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