When I’m in the latter stages of revision, and I’ve done everything listed in my Micro Revision post, and I’ve shared the novel with a few beta readers, there comes a time when I try to look at every word in the book.
Of course, I can’t look at every word individually because words in a story don’t stand on their own. I look at words in relation to the other words around them. But I consider every word when I read sentence after sentence, and here’s the main question I ask:
Are there words I can eliminate while still maintaining the Voice of the MC?
I’m not a fan of chopping words just because the sentence will still read okay without them.
I’m not looking for okay, I’m looking to maintain my MC’s voice.
So, I’m a fan of focusing on my how my MC narrates, speaks and acts, and then going from there.
Do I cut a lot of words? I do. But I don’t cut them because they appear to appear too many times.
If there’s a phrase or word that my MC uses with some frequency, I’ll do a search to see where it pops up and I might delete a few of those entries because the same phrase, no matter how witty, has the potential to lose its punch, or become annoying, if used to often.
And yes, I don’t want my manuscript littered with little words like just, but, so, for, and that. However, I don’t cut these words just because a sentence will still read okay without them.
If you cut words without considering the voice, you might revise the voice right out of your story. And if you do that, it’ll be hard for anyone to connect with your story no matter how good the plot is. I did that once a few years ago and then had to do CPR on my manuscript to bring it back to life.
How about you? Have you ever over-revised a manuscript? How do you determine whether to cut or keep a word? All those little decisions can add up.