One of the best ways to tighten up your prose is by learning to find and eliminate redundancies. Trust me, this is easier than it sounds.
First, you have to put some distance between yourself and your manuscript (if you can, give it a month but at least a minimum of 2 weeks if you’re working on a deadline).
Second, look for places where give readers more detail than necessary.
She opened the door and got in the car.
Just say –
She got in the car.
You really don’t need to tell us that the door was opened – it’s implied by the natural order of things. Now, if you’re writing about a superhero just getting a hold of her incredible strength, then perhaps this simple every day fact might be worth mentioning if she’s been struggling with keeping doors on hinges. Otherwise, consider it commonsense and delete it.
He smashed his fist through the wall cursing in anger.
Just say –
He smashed his fist through the wall cursing.
Here it should be obvious that he’s angry or doing this action ‘in anger’ based on the build up of tension prior to this point or immediately after. It isn’t necessary to tell us how a character is feeling if you’ve already shown us.
So, go forth and rid your prose of these redundancies for a cleaner, sharper, better flowing manuscript.
You are so right. It’s one of the things that annoys me when I read–and still I find them in my writing. Good reminder.
It’s often something we do without even realizing it – adding the extra redundant info. With practice we can learn to catch most of these instances ourselves but a great beta reader willing to go the extra mile with a fresh set of eyes works wonders on clearing up those last few instances!