8 Early Draft Cuts For A Stronger Manuscript

K.M. Allan

There’s a reason it’s a good idea to not show anyone early drafts, and that’s because it’s usually full of writing that should be cut.

And these cuts aren’t darlings—writing that’s good but doesn’t fit with the story—they’re the parts of your MS that will make it stronger once you’ve removed them.

They are the weak words that sneak in and clutter up your sentences, the passages that water down your reveals, the ideas that helped you get those early drafts written, but should now be taken out. Cuts such as…

1) The Repeats

The repeats are words you use excessively. Usually to the point you don’t even know you’re doing it until it’s pointed out by a well-intentioned beta reader (or three or four). The word “That” is high on my repeats lists, as are “Realized” and “Surprise”. In early drafts, my characters are always realizing things and…

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8 thoughts on “8 Early Draft Cuts For A Stronger Manuscript

  1. Good article and have posted the following on the website:

    I wouldn’t say I’ve got ‘that’ beaten but it is now cowering in a corner. I’ve had a blitz on ‘just’, ‘well’, and ‘so’. Their overuse is . . . well just so annoying. I’ve found ‘have been’ harder to conquer.
    And beware of too many glance/d/ing – glanced at their watch, glancing at the clock, a quick glance told them.
    Where character X has to tell character Y something the reader has seen X do then either have the narration state they ‘relayed’ what had happened or use ellipsis – “Did you know . . . ” – then pick up on Y’s reaction to continue (but be more inventive than the very basic way I’ve suggested).
    My characters have been ‘shocked’, ‘alarmed’, even ‘flummoxed’ – I don’t think they’ve been overly ‘surprised’ and certainly not ‘suddenly’ (another one to watch) but I’m off to check, along with whether they’ve ‘realized’ something or other.

    Liked by 2 people

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