Show, not Tell

There are 3 rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.

Lesson 9

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I had a few rounds of critique of my newest query at literary agent Nathan Bransford‘s forums and someone pointed out all of my unnecessary words. They really ate up my word count! Literary agent Janet Reid also has pointed out plenty of unnecessary words via QueryShark. The list has been very helpful in paring down and revising drafts of my query and my manuscript, so I thought I’d put the list together for other people. Here’s a list of generally unneeded words in your manuscript/query/synopsis/life:


  • She asked for his hand in marriage but was, scared of what he’d say.


  • He said that he’d love to marry her.


  • She just couldn’t be happier.


  • They went back home and made arrangements.


  • In fact, tThey ended up married that day.


  • They had lived happily ever after.

There are obviously going to be cases where the words work! It’s also prescribed to change -ing verbs to -ed if your story is in past tense. They “ended up married” instead of “ended up marrying.” Hopefully if you CTRL + f these hotspots, you can pare down your documents a bit and polish it up a little more!

Are there any words you’ve noticed that are typically extraneous?


Written by Jessica Lei

August 30, 2010 at 11:49 pm

Posted in Lessons, Revising, Writing

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