The Skinny on Flab

Lately I've been reading on some blogs about cutting the flab from manuscripts, the excess poundage. Of course it's excellent advice. All those extra adverbs, adjectives and useless words can make a manuscript thick, a heavy read to wade through.
So you cut and you prune and you lose weight.
Then what?

I gotta tell you, I've been skinny my whole life. I also have cellulite. Yes, I can cover it with clothes. Yes, I appear healthier than some people (though technically a thin person can be obese-yep). Some friends of mine gape when I claim to want to work out. (claim is the perfect verb here). They say, why?

I'll tell you. Lack of flab does not equal strength.

Your manuscript is healthier when you trim the extra words but it is not necessarily stronger. What you need to do is TONE that baby. That's right. Get some muscle.

My cellulite areas are my bootie and thighs. So I do squats, lunges and anything else that causes pain. LOL

Look at your story. How's the punch of your narrative? Wanna make it stronger? Verbs will do it. Strong verbs that kick images into the minds of your readers.

In your manuscript, where are your "cellulite" areas? How do you tone these places to make them stronger?


Karen Hossink said…
What a great analogy, Jessica!
And I think it can fit into just about every aspect of life. The absence of "flab" doesn't make us strong. Good thinking!
Hi Jessica -

Excellent food for thought. The old stand-by, "Show, don't tell," comes to mind.

Susan :)
Anonymous said…
I'm with IM above. Great analogy!

As you well know, Jessie, I write fairly lush prose. I guess to some people that might come across as obese. But I use really great verbs for the most part. And I don't have many passive passages in my books. So maybe my stuff isn't obese. It's more like ... curvacious. Snort.
Hi Jessica -

Thanks for the link. I'm glad the article inspired you.

I'll now have to make my words do a few of those lunges and squats. :)

Jessica Nelson said…
Thanks Susan! My uncle used to call me bones, lol. Not muscle.
Thanks for stopping by.
Jessica Nelson said…
Hey Susan,
Yep, I loved your article. I thought it was great, especially since I have a weakness (translate: addiction) to chocolate :-)
Jessica Nelson said…
LOL Anita, you're making me snort.
Yeah, your prose is lush but it's SO strong. Like I told you before, there are very few "was"s in your writing.
Curvaceous is a great word.
Anonymous said…
Wow! Yeah, curvaceous is a great word, if you spell it right. Heh. I'm so totally dependant on spell check it's not even funny. :-)
Sarah said…
Great post!

I like to use unnecessary words. When my mentor at the CWG reads over my assignments, she highlights every word that isn't needed. I get better with each lesson, but I still use a few too many. My personal favorites are "so" and "just."
Anonymous said…
Ack! I meant dependEnt. I was just ... um ... making a point. Yeah, that's it. Snort!

Thank heavens for teh spell-chekcer.

Genny said…
Love the analogy, and I agree! Tone, tone, tone.
Jessica Nelson said…
LOL Sarah
I do the same thing. I love ctrl F. Then it can find every single "pet" word.
Jessica Nelson said…
Thanks for stopping by Genny!
Keli Gwyn said…

First, thanks for the fun article reminding us how important it is to find the flab in our fiction, force it to take a hike and feel the freedom as our writing once again flows.

One problem that I have is that I really like to use that. As you can see, I have to be on the lookout for that and really--two words I'm overly fond of using in a first draft.

Second, I've been trying to locate your email address because you won a drawing at Romance Writers on the Journey when you left a comment on my post: Romance Writers Road Map. My computer was in the shop for two weeks, and I was limping along on my daughter's old one. Unfortunately my sidekick was in the shop two weeks and I forgot to tell my server to hold my messages for longer than a week, so yours was gone by the time I got my machine back and downloaded my emails.

If you'll send me your address, I'll get the box of coffee mug note cards you won on its way to you.

keligwyn [at] earthlink [dot] net
Jessica Nelson said…
Ooh, I won? That's so cool!
Yes, "that" is also a word I use WAY too much.

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