- Think about what the illustrations will show. Do you really need to say that your character is sitting by a stream? (Don't be afraid to use an illustration note if you need to, but only use them if absolutely necessary!)
- Can you say with one word (better) something that you've said in two... or three... or four?
- Contractions! Going though your manuscript and changing they are to they're and I am to I'm, etc., can cut quite a few words. Of course, you don't have to contract everything contractable. Use your judgement on what sounds best in your story. Remember to watch for it is. It's it's not its!
- Check your descriptions. Can they be tightened?
- Are there sentences that can be combined?
- Can words that end in -ed be changed to -ing, omitting the pronoun?
- Don't be afraid to go even further. Can you rid the story of any scenes, characters or dialogue? If it isn't moving the story forward get rid of it!
- Try Twitter. It's really great for helping make one aware of cuttable words. When you're trying to fit a thought into so few characters you can really see what needs to go!
Here are some common word offenders to be on the lookout for:
And of course: adjectives and adverbs!
My biggest offender? The horrible! The horrifying! Just. Oh how that word seems to make it into every single one of my manuscripts.
What are your biggest offenders? I'll add them to the list!
Of course, it can be hard to see what can be changed in our own work after we've looked at it for so long. If you've done your best to cut and still have a manuscript that's too long, ask a critique partner to look at it with an eye towards cutting!