My dear friend Becca Birkin went to SBWI in LA. Here’s a cool quote she sent: “We had a panel on three things to do/not do when submitting. Many of the ideas from the editors were familiar, but this one interested me: Dinah Stevenson of Clarion said, ‘Something that frequently says first novel is when it’s obvious the writer has put in everything, and a skilled writer has made choices and knows what to include and what to cut.’ ”
I’ve been reading a few writers’ work. What always surprises me is the excess of words in a piece.
Dialogue that doesn’t move the story forward.
Too much description.
Back story that is in a lump at the start of a chapter or beginning of a scene or anywhere else in the piece.
Remember that every word must do its work plus some. Dialogue has to move a scene forward.
Back story can sometimes be woven in or dropped altogether and must support the current story.
Repetition can be squashed by going through and removing the offenders.
Let every word you use carry weight.
I always say, “If you had to pay a dollar a word . . .” It’s because each word has a job–to drive the story to the climax of the novel. If that doesn’t happen, you can cut.