Your Best Story tip #3 — Reducing flab

Are your friends saying your prose is hard to read? Then this writing tip is for you.

As a beginning writer, I was convinced that adverbs and adjectives were the keys to the magic portals of writing. I adverbed every sentence to a slow and labored death—lengthening their runs with my incomprehensible modifier fetish. But then, instead of magic, people began calling my prose verbose emptiness.

The first thing I learned at the Institute for Writers was that using difficult words was antithetical to good writing—the more adverbs and adjectives I used, the weaker my writing became. I learned that less is more. I kept reminding myself of that Simpsons character yelling, “Simplify, man!”

How do you simplify your writing? Try removing every adjective and every adverb from your prose. Does it still stand? Reinsert only those adjectives and adverbs you need for clarity and warmth—if they aren’t doing useful work, grasp your spear and drive them out.

Are your friends saying your prose is hard to read? Then this writing tip is for you. As a beginning writer, I was convinced that adverbs and adjectives were the keys to the magic portals of writing. I adverbed every sentence to a slow and labored death—lengthening their runs with my incomprehensible modifier fetish. But…

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