Clutter doesn’t just happen in our closet or on our desk. When you are writing, you may not even be aware that you are cluttering your article or story with unnecessary words or details.
Some details are essential to the development of your story or characters, while others just confuse and bore the reader.
As you want your manuscript to be as good as possible and you want your reader to enjoy what they read, you’ll need to declutter your writing
But how do you get rid of all the clutter in your story? In this article, we put together some top tips on what you can do to cut out the unnecessary clutter in your story.
How To Get Rid Of Cluttered Writing
When you are drafting a story or manuscript, it often happens that you use a lot of detail and useless words that don’t contribute to the clarity of your characters or ideas.
While this is fine with the first draft, you will need to edit and revise your written work before submitting it to a publisher.
This also involves decluttering your writing and keeping your characters, thoughts and concepts as concise as possible.
Clear Your Mind
You may not have expected this to be the first on the list but, as so many self-help coaches tell us, clutter starts in your head.
When you have a clear mind, then it’s not just much easier to write but the quality of your writing also improves.
With a muddled mind, you may be able to put a few clear paragraphs or sentences together but as your story evolves, you will naturally stuff your story with unnecessary elements.
Writers have different ways to clear their mind. Some do yoga or meditation before writing, others just sit in a cafe and enjoy the world go by.
No matter how you choose to write, it’s good to bear in mind that writing means you need to focus on your story only.
Find out what you want to tell your reader and then develop your thoughts and characters from there.
Mix Up Your Sentences
The best way to get rid of cluttered writing is to mix up your sentences a little. This could be changing up different sentence lengths.
For example, you can write a shorter sentence, and then follow it up with a longer, more descriptive sentence.
Saying this, try not to stuff it with too much detail as you still want to keep your ideas as concise as possible.
Don’t Use The Same Language
When it comes to writing, you will quickly develop your own style and even your own tone of voice.
However, it takes a lot of practice to develop your unique language style. When you start writing a manuscript, keep an eye on repetitive sentences and language.
For example, “we spent a lot of time together today” is too similar to “we were together all day today”. So, try not to use these too similar sentences or phrases in paragraphs close to each other.
Mixing up your language can make your story more meaningful and engaging, and your audience will enjoy reading it.
Don’t Depend On The Same Structure
The structure of a story is one of the most essential parts in writing. Although you should avoid repeating certain idea and thoughts in sentences, it’s not always unavoidable.
That’s why, if you need to repeat a thought, then try to say it in a different way than you did previously.
It can be tricky to come up with different ways of wrapping up an idea in a sentence but that’s where you can just use different words.
Avoid Too Much Detail
There is a certain amount of detail you need to pack into a story for it to make sense.
But many writers also have a tendency to just add too much detail which easily ends up distracting the reader from your main idea.
Always ask yourself whether mentioning a certain fact is important to what you want to bring across.
For example, is it useful to mention that one of your character’s has had a cousin somewhere in Australia who lived on a range with three dogs and a cat.
Does this contribute to the meaning of your story? Is the cousin showing up later in the story?
If not, then it’s worthwhile just dropping the sentence or changing it to align it more with the purpose of your storyline.
Avoid Unnecessary Words
We all do it. We all use unneeded words sometimes, even though we could get away with fewer words to make our point.
Some of the most popular unnecessary words are “the”, “it” and “was”/”is”. But also descriptive adjectives are often used to blow up a sentence needlessly.
Make sure that you use only words that you really need to underline your characters and story ideas.
Beware Of Nominalization
When you use a noun instead of a verb, then this is called nominalization.
As an example, you swap out “analyze” for “analysis”, then you are nominalizing. While this isn’t always a bad idea, it makes your story wordier and not always clearer.
Many scientific papers use nominalization but authors of short stories or novels typically use verbs.
Review Your Overall Structure
It’s not just lots of details or convoluted sentences that clutter your writing. Also the overall structure of your story can be affected by cluttering.
Make sure that you structure your story so that your readers can follow along easily. It’s a good idea to have a plan of what your characters do, and create a mind map of the story.
Getting rid of clutter in your writing isn’t difficult. Just make a plan of what you want to write about, how your characters develop and then start your first draft.
Once you have the first draft of your story together, you can always tidy up the sentence structure and remove any unnecessary details.