Everyone is wordy. Some people’s prose is underdeveloped, yes, but still wordy. Others’ is definitely long-winded and definitely wordy. Most beginners use more words than necessary to express what they mean, but so do many accomplished authors.
All writers need to check themselves carefully in order to produce tight prose because filler words, the extra calories of sentences, can too easily creep in.
Public enemy number one: “The reason is because Stacia wanted to kiss Reese.”
Drop the first four words in this sentence and you haven’t lost a thing. In fact, you’ve probably gained a few readers.
Another troublemaker is “there were/was.” For example, “There were several reasons that Stacia wanted to date Reese.” “There were/was” is often unnecessary. “Stacia wanted to date Reese for several reasons” reads more smoothly, is more direct, and is clearer.
The next instances of wordiness are more subtle. “Stacia reached out a hand and touched Reese.” Usually if you touch someone, the reader will fill in the implication that you reached out a hand, or even merely reached out. So “Stacia touched Reese” will do. The same goes for “Stacia turned and faced Reese.” “Stacia faced Reese” is enough.
Some examples of wordiness are humorous, if you visualize them. Think about this one. “Stacia nibbled the knuckles of Reese’s index finger with her teeth.” Duh. What else would she nibble with?
And some are simply overkill. “Stacia still felt a tremor hidden deep within her that refused to let up.” I’ll leave it to you to rewrite this one, but it could definitely stand revision.
The bottom line? Trim that flab if you want your prose to move.
Editors, how would you revise these examples?
1. The National Gallery of Art, which is in Washington, D.C., and which houses the Mellon, Kress, and Widener collections, is one of the largest marble structures in the entire world.
2. When the fans in the stadium shout and yell, the shouting and yelling is deafening, and so the total effect of all this is that it is a contributing factor in decisions to stay home and watch the games on TV.
3. I am of the opinion that one reason why these two newspapers have such power is because so many people are happy to let the reporters and editors tell them what to think and let them form their opinions for them.
Shelley Thrasher inflicts her belief that less is more on the authors whose novels she edits. They scream a lot, but generally cave in. Then she asks some of them to write new scenes to increase their word count. And, wonder of wonders, they seem to appreciate it.