Writing Exercise: All the Trimmings

Photo by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash

All the Trimmings at Thanksgiving usually means so much good stuff: stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy, homemade mashed potatoes, heavenly hash, yeast buns, and pumpkin pie.

Trimming when writing is cutting things down. Sometimes it is done to control word count, other times to get rid of dead words which add nothing to the book, and still others to slay the dreaded adverb and copula monsters.

Sewing has a saying: As you sew, so shall you rip.

Writing should have a saying of: As you write, so shall you trim.

Modern writing is lean. Trimming words down is a required skill.

WRITING EXERCISE: Pick something you wrote but haven’t cleaned up yet. At least 250 words. Cut the words down by 10%. (e.g. For 250 words, you want to end up at 225. For 500 words, only 450 in your final product.)

REVIEW EXERCISE: What words did you remove? Dead words like “that”? Changing out the weak copula for a stronger verb buried in the sentence? Fixing adverb+verb combinations for a specialized word (she ran very fast – she sped; he walked slowly – he sauntered)? Dropped extra dialog tags like “said” and “asked”? Something else? Comment below.