Saturday, February 22, 2014

Short and Sweet: Use Direct Speech

Direct statements are more vivid than indirect statements. So, be direct! Use quoted speech and quoted thoughts whenever you can. Depending on the type of statement, this can also lower your word count. In the examples below, the use of direct speech lowers the word count by 15%.

You might need to review the special punctuation rules for quoted statements: The Ten Rules of Quoted Speech.


BEFORE: I told my father not to worry. (7 words)
AFTER: "Father," I said, "don't worry." (5 words)

BEFORE: Dr. Mutiba thought that Ravana might be depressed. (8 words)
AFTER: "Ravana might be depressed," thought Dr. Mutiba. (7 words)

BEFORE: He told me that I had to believe him. (9 words)
AFTER: "You must believe me!" he said. (6 words)

BEFORE: The general asked himself if he could trust this young soldier. (11 words)
AFTER: "Can I trust this young soldier?" the general asked himself. (10 words)

BEFORE: Sugriva promised Rama that his army would go with him to Lanka. (12 words)
AFTER: "Rama," Sugriva promised, "my army will go with you to Lanka." (11 words)

BEFORE: Mordecai told Esther that she had to beg the king for protection. (12 words)
AFTER: Mordecai told Esther, "You must beg the king for protection." (10 words)

BEFORE: The priest asked Joan if she was sorry for what she had done. (13 words)
AFTER: "Joan, are you sorry for what you have done?" the priest asked. (12 words)

BEFORE: Robin wondered whether or not he would ever get out of the dungeon.  (13 words)
AFTER: "Will I ever get out of this dungeon?" Robin wondered. (10 words)

BEFORE: The Beast explained that an evil witch had put a curse on him. (13 words)
AFTER: "An evil witch put a curse on me," the Beast explained. (11 words)

BEFORE: Little Red told the wolf that she was going to her grandmother's house. (13 words)
AFTER: Little Red told the wolf, "I'm going to my grandmother's house." (11 words)

For more strategies to use in reducing your word count while improving your writing, see this list: Short and Sweet Writing Strategies.

Little Red Riding Hood by Carl Larsson (1881)
Web Source: Wikipedia

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