In this article we are talking about how to reduce your word count, either in a manuscript or an article, because sometimes when you are writing, you are confined to a word count.
For example, when you’re pitching to the media, your submissions have to be within a certain number of words otherwise they just don’t get looked at. Or if you’re writing in a multi-author book project, and you’re only writing a chapter, it has to be, for example, between 3000 and 3,500 words. And sometimes that can be really difficult to do. So today I’m bringing you my top 10 tips for reducing your word count.
Use singular words instead of multiple
Replace words such as “in order to” with “to”, “in addition to” with “also” and “on the other hand” with “alternatively.
Use full names once and shorten them thereafter
First introduce “Willow Smith” and then refer to her as Willow for the rest of the story.
Remove the word “the”
If the word “the” is not necessary then leave it out! For example:
The cream curtains lent the room a sense of luxury. (10 words)
Cream curtains lent the room a sense of luxury. (9 words)
Add some authority to your verbs
Adding some punchy words to verbs is impactful and reduces word count! For example:
“You will never achieve your dreams,” he said, his voice scathing and full of hate. (15 words)
“You will never achieve your dreams,” he spat. (8 words)
Make it plural
Wherever possible make it plural. For example, use “children” instead of “a child” or “horses” instead of “the herd of horses” or “ a horse”. This has the added benefit of being able to use a single word when writing about possession. For example, instead of having to say “his or her” you can use “their”.
Lose the conjunction!
Using the “-ing” form of a verb does away with the need to use two words in place of one. For example:
She ran as fast as she could and soon reached the finish line. (13 words)
Running as fast as she could, she reached the finish line. (11 words)
Remove the word “that”
This is one of the most overused and underwhelming words in the English language. More often than not you will find that leaving it out of a sentence does little to change the meaning.
Writing is one of the best healing tools that leaves us feeling connected and calm. (15 words)
Writing is one of the best healing tools leaving us feeling connected and calm. (14 words)
Exact times vs approximate times
Unless your time and date is integral to your story it is better to use an approximate. For example:
It was nearly five o’clock in the evening when she got home. (12 words)
It was nearly sunset when she got home. (8 words)
Hyphenated words are counted as one word so use them whenever possible in place of two words.
The girl was good natured. (5 words)
The good-natured girl. (3 words)
Get to the point!
Getting to the point and using an active voice with a direct tone is the fastest way to reduce your word count. Stop flapping about with unnecessary words such as “perhaps”, “really”, “possibly”, “maybe” and so on. This keeps your readers engaged and your word count down.
She really wanted that toy but perhaps it was not meant to be. (13 words)
She wanted that toy but it was not to be. (10 words)2.
So those are my top 10 points or top 10 tips, I suppose, for reducing your word count. I hope that that helps and that you found this super useful.
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