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Digital Subscriptions > Writing Magazine > January 2018 > In need of a trim

In need of a trim

A reader is worried that her agent’s advice to write concisely will alter her style, but Jane Wenham Jones advises her to embrace the edit


I have worked tirelessly to produce my first novel – following much of the advice you have given in previous issues – and it’s now with an agent.

She, however, insists my novel is too ‘wordy’ and has ticked me off for writing a sentence containing nearly ninety words.

My view is that I am building up atmosphere and drama but she says my reader will lose interest in the plot if I do not write more concisely.

It’s taken me years to find the courage to write my novel and I feel very downcast now, as I feel my agent has poured cold water on my efforts.

Should I take her advice and attempt to alter my entire writing style? Or should I change agents?

If I were you, Rachel, I would do neither. Firstly, you have done awfully well to get an agent – congratulations on that and if Writing Magazine has helped in any small way we are all suitably thrilled – so don’t be too quick to dispatch her! Secondly, you can attend to a slight over-wordiness without altering your ‘entire’ writing style. I think the key word here is ‘compromise’.

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About Writing Magazine

In this month's issue, we show you ten ways to improve your writing right now, and look at how to impress an editor and get your feature articles accepted. This month's star interview is crime bestseller and Rizzoli and Isles creator Tess Gerritsen, who opens her casebook to discuss murder, medicine and false memory. When you've polished your work and got it ready to submit, check out the Writers' News pages – packed with opportunities to get into print and competitions to enter, with £54,762 in writing prizes to be won.

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