Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Putting Your Story on a Diet

By Darvell Hunt

Your story is compelling, but it’s too wordy and has too many adverbs. Try rewriting it and then resubmit.

Have you ever received comments like this in a rejection letter? If you have, you are not alone. And if you did, congratulations are in order, because most rejections are mere form letters. Perhaps the only thing holding you back from becoming published is that your story has too much fat.

At the risk of sounding like I’m bragging, let me tell you that I’ve lost 25 pounds in the past 18 months. I now have more energy to do things and I feel much healthier. All it takes is a little self-discipline, a bit of exercise, and some dedicated dieting.

Stories need that, too. I believe your stories (and mine) will have much more energy and be more exciting if you remove all of the excess fat. Kill the -ly words, remove the extra adjectives and adverbs, and try to simplify your writing by saying the same thing in fewer words.

It’s hard to do. Just like losing fat pounds, it takes practice and consistency over a long period of time. The extra effort you give in forcing your stories to lose their excess weight will make your writing much healthier. I can guarantee the extra work you do in slimming your story will pay off in the quality of your writing. I can also guarantee the editors to which you submit your stories will notice your additional effort. I can’t guarantee, however, they will accept your story and publish it, although I wish I could, but I honestly believe your chances will be better.

I can’t yet fit into the pants I wore when I got married fifteen years ago, but I’m getting there. I’m slimming up and I’m getting healthier. So is my writing.


Lisa M. said...

Interesting idea & analagy. I'll have to keep that in mind.

Triple Nickel said...

Very interesting. I absolutly, positively foud it adorably good!
Oh, and I'd be happy if I could fit in the pants I wore just last year!
Thanks for a good blog.