Imagine the care required in a lifetime of work discovering the beauty in a miniature tree.  The bonsai artist visualizes and contemplates, crafts and prunes . . . all the time removing everything which isn’t beautiful.  The tree–our writing, our idea–contains beauty inherently: now look for it by removing all which is not beautiful.  Here are areas to watch for:

Repeated phrases, words, ideas:

Except in poetic repetition, restatement is never required.  Remove each word or idea that has been said before, sometimes combining sentences to make the grammar work.

Meaningless phrases, words, syllables:

Yes, right down to the merest syllable which carries no definition, cut cut cut!  Beware, in particular, prepositional phrases and vague words like “stuff,” “things,” “many,” and “very.”

He is playing outside.  –>  He plays outside.  (Who needs that -ing, anyway?)

“To be” verbs. 

If verbs are supposed to be active, destroy purposeless uses of am, is, are, was, were, be, being, and been.  Here are some guidelines:

1. Cut the verb:He is playing outside –>  He plays outside.
2. Replace the verb:She was sad.  –>  She cried.
3. Re-arrange the sentence:He was distracted by the ball.  –> The ball distracted him.
4. Cut the sentence:(Yes, it really is that important to remove these!  Do you really need that sentence?)
5. If all else fails, use the “to be” verb!