If nothing happens until page three, four or five, cut those first pages out! I know how attached you can get to your first pages, but sometimes if you cut out the first few pages, what is called the “throat clearing,” it can often read much stronger, make more sense, create a sense of immediacy that is sometimes lacking. Don’t start with all that explaining; jump right into your story. We writers just get so used to those first pages the way they are because they’ve probably been hanging around so long. They may not really be all that good, just familiar. Although you may feel sad, sometimes those pages are just destined for the trash.
Make every word count.
When you read your manuscript to yourself, try to look at Every. Single. Word. I know it can be pretty difficult. But ask yourself if the words you’ve chosen are the best ones for telling your story. Can you say what you’re trying to say in a simpler or more straightforward way? Or should you stretch it out, spend some more time with an idea? Maybe you should use a word that you don’t normally use? Or try to cut out the extraneous words. Really look for the individual words that will capture exactly what you are intending to convey. Don’t be lazy now.
He said. She said.
He whispered sadly; she loudly declared, I exclaimed. When writing dialogue, it usually works much better to just write it without expounding on how it comes out. Just put in a simple, ‘he said,’ or ‘she said.’ You want your readers to concentrate on the dialogue, to hear what your characters are saying. So show rather than tell how your characters are speaking. It is less distracting for your readers and they can focus more on what’s being said.
And remember: Too many adjectives are too many adjectives. Nuff said.
What is one piece of writing advice you’d like to share with other writers?