Aspiring writers always want to know why agents pass on sample pages. I figured I’d starting doing a writing tip of the week or the month – depending on how many good examples I have to share. So here’s my tip for this week: when writing action, use tight prose. Yes, I get that that is easier said than done.
In a first draft, writers often get a little wordy. Hence why they are called first drafts! The trick is to not submit said first draft to an agent or editor. Revise first. By the way, this isn’t just a beginning writer mistake. Established authors do this too. The difference? An established author gets the benefit of a line editor who will tidy it up. Newer writers are not so lucky. You folks have to get it right out of the gate or agents will pass on the sample pages.
An example is the best way to understand what I’m talking about here.
We didn’t encounter any more of the guards on our way to the park. I felt a lot better once we were inside the park even though I logically knew that we weren’t necessarily safe there. I just felt a lot less exposed surrounded by trees. The others soon joined us at the designated meeting place.
Line-edited wording (and just an FYI that it was already clear in previous paragraph that characters were headed to park):
The coast was clear all the way to the designated meeting place. It defied logic but I felt safer and a lot less exposed surrounded by trees. The others soon joined us.
Less is more and this allows the writer to get to the something good that’s about to unfold a lot more quickly.