Wow, it has been a busy few days. I have just reduced a 18k story down to 10k. It has been a tough, but I think I’ve done it.
The deadline was tight, but I do feel the story is much improved. Now the problem may be whether the story fits the theme the publishers are looking for.
Still I have learnt a lot from the experience.
Editing is a skill all writers need to master if you want publishers to take you seriously as a writer. It is too easy to not edit your work than to edit. You’ll be surprised how much stronger your work can become if you get tough and cut the crap.
When editing you need to be strong with yourself, and most importantly learn to stand back from your work.
The things I was asking myself as I edited the piece were:
1) Can I rewrite this sentence using less words: sometimes we are too wordy.
2) Yes, I had spent time working on a description of …. the room, the clothes etc,: does the reader really need to know? Does it carry the story forward?
3) Do I need to let the reader know who is speaking when there are only two characters in a scene: Sometimes we need to have faith that our readers are following the plot. As long as the conversation doesn’t go on too long you don’t always need she said or he said. If, for instant, one character has addressed the other in the conversation by their first name, we know who the speaker is without needing to remind the reader.
4) Never name the emotion: Remember through action the reader will know how your characters are feeling.
5) Get rid of any sentences that start with There were/ there are/ it was etc : Really work hard at rewriting them. You’re a writer so behave like one. Rewriting is our best tool in the box.
6) Don’t hedge your bet: delete: it seems like/ it felt like etc. Either it is or it isn’t. If it really isn’t one thing or the other get rid of it. Your reader won’t even miss it, nor will you.
Now I need to start work editing my novel from 117k down to 75k. This practice run has really got me in the mood for it.
Have a great week.