1. Yotam
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    Yotam Member

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    shorten words

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Yotam, Sep 15, 2013.

    since a few months ago i began saving for an editor, i started doing my own edit on my manuscript, to the best that i can.

    my question is quite simple, yet because english is not my native tongue and in hebrew we don't have this... i hope you guys can help me.

    so, part of the process of my edit is cutting as much words that i can (i had 144K when i started) without causing any harm. the thing i struggle with are words like: "was not", "he is", "would have" and so on... (don't know how to tag them) that i'm not sure will be proper to shorten in ms to "wasn't", "he's", "would've" and so on...

    would it be alright for me to shorten this words?

    oh! another thing... after which "..." i need to start with capital letter?
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2013
  2. Dean Stride
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    Dean Stride Contributing Member

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    Cogito has a nice blog post about quotes, and he also offers an external link for more info. Check it out.

    Edit: Concerning contracting, it all depends on your style and formatting. You would help us immensely if you told us on what type of novel you're working.
     
  3. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't see why not especially of it's in dialogue and it's the way you want your characters to speak.

    If you are starting a new sentence after the dialogue is finished then yes, a capital I. And all I's wherever they appear, are capital for that matter.
     
  4. Dean Stride
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    Dean Stride Contributing Member

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    I think his question was regarding to the general capitalization rules applied when using quote marks in dialogue.
     
  5. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ok whatever - it just looked to me like the OP was asking about starting a new sentence with a cap. Then he started his sentence with a lower case i. I'm sure he'll get it :)
     
  6. Yotam
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    Yotam Member

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    thank, you guys, for the help. to your question, my novel is a fantasy one for young adults.
     
  7. Dean Stride
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    Dean Stride Contributing Member

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    I'm certain they know that, perhaps by not using proper capitalization in forum posts they're saving time, like mammamaia.
     
  8. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    You could check out some works in your genre (and elsewhere, why not) and see how much the authors have truncated she's and would'ves. I did that when I was unsure and noticed it's pretty common to conjoin the verb to the subject or auxiliary verb even in narration, but my gneres are mainly sci-fi and fantasy.

    EDIT: ah, ok, it's YA fantasy. Then I think it's ok for you to shorten them.
     
  9. Dean Stride
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    Dean Stride Contributing Member

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    It's pretty much a staple if you're using a 1st person narrative, and I've even seen it used in some 3rd person ones as well. Since you're not writing anything formal, you should be in the clear.
     
  10. Yotam
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    Yotam Member

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    it's not about time, but convenience. in hebrew we have two types of written and you either write with one or the other but not both.

    KaTrian
    to answer your post before the edit, i thought about reading works of authors i attempt to follow, but was not sure if to an agent they send the same format.
    i guess now, thanks to all the comments i got, that it should be fine to shorten and even help me to cut some more of the word count =]
     
  11. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Your manuscript is currently 144k. What is the goal you are being asked to approach as regards cutting back?
     
  12. Yotam
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    Yotam Member

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    i was told the publishers don't tend to accept from new writers an ms with above 120k. that they prefer an ms of 80k-120k. my goal is to cut as much as possible without feeling that i'm harming the ms.
     
  13. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Then you're looking to trim something like 20k+ words. That's quite a bit. Your word processor should let you do a simple find/replace to substitute contractions where possible, but I get a feeling this isn't going to amount to anywhere close to what you need to get to your goal. You should instead be focusing on parts of the manuscript that are unnecessary, that do not move the story forward, and dialogue that is overly mundane, filled with all the natter that does happen in real life but should not be present in a novel.

    Don't pluck leaves; trim branches. ;)
     
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  14. Yotam
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    Yotam Member

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    that is my aim. i haven't check my edit progress yet in terms of word count, but i believe that i passed the 15k already and now, thanks to the comments i got, feel safe shortening words.

    what do you mean "word processor"? the ctrl+f function in word?
     
  15. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    No. MS Word is a word processor. That is the name in English for that kind of program. There are many word processor applications of which Word is just one. :)
     
  16. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Start by looking for scenes that neither advance the story nor develop the characters. Then look for redundant description ("He buttoned his coat to keep out the cold of the frigid icy wind."), and description that goes on too long and in too much detail.

    If you need to shorten your manuscript more than that, simplify the story. Maybe you're adding unnecessary complications.

    Cutting word count by forcing contractions and rephrasing for minimum word count is self-defeating. Drafts, especially by new writers, usually has plenty of substantive flab to carve away first.
     
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  17. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    (My corrections may not be perfect as I'm not an editor.)

    You need a capital letter when starting a new sentence, but contractions and quotation marks can be in the middle of sentences.

    I know it's frustrating to write any second language, but your post suggests you have a ways to go and we won't be able to correct everything you post here. First, don't shortcut, this is a writer's forum and it's best to use proper capitalization. You don't do yourself any favors typing in all lower case. Second, invest in a good style guide, or get one from the library. Get in the habit of looking stuff up as it will increase your retention.

    Feel free to ask us anything, there's nothing wrong with your questions. But there are many members here whose verbal English is good, but their command of grammar doesn't quite cut it as a writer. It is very time consuming to correct posts with too many grammar errors. Often someone will help, but we don't always have that kind of time.

    The best thing to do is just keep writing, and finding people to correct your mistakes, but you need more than that. You need some hard work on your own as well.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2013
  18. GingerCoffee
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    You won't find a publisher without a better command of English regardless of word count. I think you need to place a higher priority on your fluency before worrying about word count.

    Some people in the forum abbreviate manuscript as 'ms'. But I, like Wrey, thought of MS Word, aka the word processor program, when I saw "ms" in your post. You may not want to shortcut words either, at least for a while.
     
  19. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    In my case, eliminating redundant description isn't really worth the time - too much work for too little gain. But I'm fully with Cogito on finding scenes that don't really do anything the story needs. As a pantser, I tend to write a lot of those, and by far the best and most effective way for me to cut excess words is to delete those scenes. Doing that doesn't just bring the word count down to something reasonable, it also streamlines the story, dramatically improving the pace. It sounds like you need to cut a lot (more than 20,000 words is a lot), and you're an inexperienced writer, so my guess is you have unnecessary scenes. Be brutal and cut them. You'll be happier with the results.

    Trying to cut down words by using contractions isn't likely to get you very far, I think. Take Cogito's advice and cut out unnecessary scenes first.
     
  20. Yotam
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    Yotam Member

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    Going over my manuscript, there is something new I would like to ask about...
    When the translator translated the manuscript he used both past simple and past progressive. Is it correct to use them both for the same type of descriptions?
     
  21. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    can't say without seeing a sample, yotam...
     
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  22. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    It all depends on the action being described and the context. Both constructions validly exist and have their reason for use. As Maia mentions, we would need to see an example in order to answer that question.
     
  23. Yotam
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    Yotam Member

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    I mainly asked to know if it's acceptable to use both times as one writes. If I'll encounter a paragraph that I won't understand, I'll post it and be glad to hear your opinions.
     
  24. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    it could be acceptable if you write it well enough... might not be, if you don't...
     
  25. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It is a common construction in English, but the writer must understand the nuances of each verb tense.

    Incorrect or poor use of the various tenses often reveals a non-native speakers. In my experience, many English-speaking people from India (for example) tend to overuse progressive tenses. I don't speak any of the Indian languages, but I assume they don't have the same verb tense variations as English, making the thought processes inherently different for someone who thinks in one of those languages and speaks English.

    Not only is English a melange of words from Latin, Germanic, and other sources, its grammar rules are regularly violated in idiomatic speech, making it one of the more difficult languages to translate to. Synthesis is always more difficult than extraction.
     

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