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Tip #1 - Write Only What Has Purpose

The goal of writing is to vividly display characters, environment and circumstances to the reader. The writer should intend to do this using the least amount of words possible with the most vivid mental imagery as a result. The writer should also be attempting to guide the reader to desired conclusions through indirect dialogue, character interactions and behaviors, environment interaction and character thoughts and motivations instead of directly addressing what the reader should be paying attention to and realizing. The writer’s job is to convince the reader with the facts.

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Example 1:

A.      John was angry. (Wrong Way)

B.      John’s eyebrows arch, his eyes narrow and hands ball into fists! “Don’t you dare,” he says. (Right Way)

In Example A the writer directly addresses John’s anger and as a result takes away the readers opportunity to visualize something more specific. In Example B the anger is never mentioned, but through descriptive words, character action and indirect dialogue a more vivid image can be achieved.

Example 2:

A.      Alice is scared of the dog when it barks because of bad past experiences! (Wrong Way)

B.      *Early in story* Alice crosses the street at the sight of the small dog.
*Currently in story* The dog barks and Alice instinctively shrieks!  (Right Way)

In Example A the reader is told directly how Alice fears the dog and how she reacts. In Example B, early in the story, long before the confrontation with this later dog, she’s seen crossing the street at the sight of a small dog. The fear is insinuated, but not addressed. Her reactive shriek later requires no explanation because the reader is already aware that she fears dogs even if they’re small.

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In order for all words to forward the story, the writer needs to approach the editing process mindful of useless information that has managed to squeeze into the text. The removal of all flimsy, loosely related or nonrelated information is crucial. If any text can be removed without affecting the rest of the story, do it, its wasting time and space.