“Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph, no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all details and treat his subjects only in outline, but that every word tell.”
-William Strunk Jr The Elements of Style Ch 2: Elementary Principles Of Composition
Below are some tips to refine your stories:-
1) Avoid long descriptive dialogues. They hinder the flow of the story. Also, dialogue markers like “he said”, “she said” should be sparingly used. Use dialogue at an important point such as Character development, Plot development, Theme development, etc.
2) Keep it simple. If a simpler word fits, suits the style and tone of the piece, use it. This does not mean you cannot use big words. Just in the right circumstances, context matters.
3) Adjectives, adverbs, dead words, tautologies and passive sentences can slow the flow of the story, so use only when necessary.
4) Alliteration, simile, assonance, metaphor, conceit, hyperbole speed the flow of the story.
5) Check for spelling, grammar and consistency. You can use a spelling checker, Grammarly, PerfectIt to ease your work. However, you have to go through everything manually to make sure your manuscript is error-free.
6) End your chapter with a cliffhanger or a question that intrigues the readers to go to the next chapter. The intention is to keep the readers hooked on your story.
7) Avoid including backstory in your book. As an author, it’s important to know your protagonist’s backstory; that doesn’t mean you include every detail in your book. Many newbie writers like to describe their protagonist as handsome, fearful, tall with turquoise blue eyes, etc. Don’t do that. If their blue eyes have something major to do, then mention otherwise not.
8) Show not tell. Don’t spoon-feed your readers by telling them what’s happening next. Show them the actions, movements, emotions of the characters to let them decipher themselves so that they also feel invested in your story.
9) Put dialogues within double-quotes.
10) There should be a gap of one space after a full stop or comma.
I hope these tips help you in some way to improve your stories.