Do you remember playing frozen tag when you were a kid? If you were ‘IT’ anyone that you tagged would have to stand ‘frozen' in the position that they were in when you tagged them until someone else tagged them again.
Sometimes I play ‘frozen tag’ in my writing. I ‘freeze’ words or sentences, or even whole paragraphs. I do this by changing the color of those words or sentences to white or a light gray. It essentially removes them from my view, so that I can see how the story would read without them.
Then I ask myself: “Do I really need those extra words? Will the story make sense without them, or are they absolutely necessary? Do they add something to the story, like humor, emotion, or some detail that helps the reader see the character, setting, or something else, in his mind?
Or do those extra words take the reader away from the story, even for a moment?
Remember, I write picture books! If you’re a novel writer, your frozen sections will probably be much longer!
Picture book authors usually have a ‘picture’ in their minds of what the scenes in their book will look like, which can make it hard to leave those details out. But we need to remember to leave space for the illustrator’s creativity as well. If we do that, we’re often delightfully surprised!
If you’re sure that the ‘frozen’ words in your manuscript need to be left in the story, then you can un-freeze them by changing the color back to black. You might also want to consider if there’s a way to ‘show’ the same thing in fewer words.
But if you’re satisfied that your story holds up without those frozen sections, just highlight them and hit the ‘delete’ key!