Five Ways to Cut Down Your Word Count

Once your perfect pitch has worked out and you’ve delivered the promised copy to your editor, you may be asked to cut down the word count. Here are some simple ways to reign in your verbiage and make you editor happy.

Five Ways to Cut Down Your Word Count

Release Your Introduction

Some writers need to write the introduction to get pumped up, or to set up the article. This is fine, but you should go back to it in your editing process. This also applies to back story and other elements of your set up. You may find that your piece stands just as well on its own.

Remove Modifiers and Other Wordiness

Modifiers are adjectives or adverbs that describe later elements in a sentence. While there is a place for modifiers, overly descriptive words don’t necessarily add to your piece, and may be covering up poorly expressed ideas. Instead of noting that your interview subject was really friendly, clarify the idea by telling your audience that he was welcoming, and why you thought so.

Repackage Quotes

This is especially pertinent to interview pieces. You’ll want your subject to shine, and using his/her own words is a good way to do that- just use less of them.

Use a Call Out Box

Recently, I edited an article that was incredible, but I still had to cut it down. One particular piece of the article was a small story that was self-contained. Consulting with the graphics designer of the publication, I was able to arrange this piece into a call out box. This enabled me to keep the story, but also meet my word count requirements.

Cut Your Bio.

Many editors will allow a freelance writer to include a short biography at the bottom of an article. Keep it to one or two sentences.