I used to be a journalist, trained to write clearly and succinctly.  So it drives me insane to read a 500-page novel that easily could be cut to 300.  The same editing can be done for any sentence, phrase or image.  lai author pix

For example:  It was obvious that upon entering the lunchroom she was perplexed beyond reason as to whether she should sit with the light-skin or the brown-skin children and it went without saying that she had no idea what to eat or even how to buy food.

That sentence used up 47 words.  Readers can barely feel the character’s emotions because they are drowning in words.

How about:  Lunchroom / light-skin side / dark-skin side / both chewing long pink meat / wedged inside oblong bread. / She turns, / stands and sighs / in the hallway.

The edit is extreme.  But if you train your brain to cut as many words as possible, you will have space for images, cadence, tone, details.

Prompt #2:  Look at any sentence you are writing right now.  Cut at least five words while keeping the essence of the message.  Now go back and use another five words to add something that will surprise your readers.


blogger bio iconA Bit About Thanhha

Thanhha’s debut novel INSIDE OUT & BACK AGAIN (HarperCollins) was 2011’s National Book Award Winner for Young Adults and won 2012 Newberry Honors.  Written in free-verse, INSIDE OUT & BACK AGAIN is a stunning portrayal of a young girl and her family’s experience fleeing from Vietnam to Alabama after the Vietnam War.  Though not a work of non-fiction, the Thanhha’s art imitated life.  In 1975, Thanhha’s family scrambled aboard a Navy ship to start a challenging new life in Montgomery, AL.

To learn more about Thanhha click here.

Inside Out & Back Again cover

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