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How to Get “Tight” (Ruby Reprise)

“Needs tightening.” My least favorite comment.

I hate tightening.  Hate it at the gym.  Hate it with my household budget.  Really, really hate it with my writing.

I love the luxuriance of books, the lavishness of language.  Back in first grade, I always needed extra sheets of story-paper for Writing Time, and never got around to drawing the stupid picture.  My very first completed romance-novel chapter?  Thirty-five pages long.  Yup, thirty-five.  Even Charles Dickens would cringe.

Years ago, I submitted that chapter to the Beau Monde’s Royal Ascot contest (I blush to remember), and a very patient judge responded:  “This is great stuff, but pick up the pace!  Readers won’t be willing to work this hard.”

Ouch.

The good news:  I heeded that advice.  Trimmed those 35 pages to 13.  Kept up that pace for a 369-page novel, which finaled in the 2009 Golden Heart. And I never forgot the lesson.

Here are a few tips on saying more with fewer words:

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