One Writer’s Journey

November 13, 2013

Rewriting: The Time to Streamline Your Work

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:07 am
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CuttingOne of the things that I do when I rewrite my work is cut any excess.  No, not in the first rewrite.  In the first rewrite, I fix gaps, rearrange for flow and repair anything that doesn’t make sense.  Once I’ve done this, I know it is time to cut.

One writer I know challenged me to reduce my word count by 1/3.  It sounds like a lot, but if you can pull it off the remaining piece is tight.

The problem is that when many of us cut, we reduce the word count by one word here and another there.  We may cut a phrase or two or even a sentence. We need to remember to look at the big ticket items as well. 

In a novel, does the scene in front of you move the plot forward?  If not, it needs to develop character in a vital way.  Otherwise, it serves no function and it needs to go.  Funny scene.  Steamy scene.  Suspenseful scene.  Whatever.  If it doesn’t serve a greater purpose, snip away.  Yes, that means cut the entire scene.  

Look at each character.  Does this character serve the story in a vital way?  She has to do more than give your main character someone to talk to so your readers find things out.  What is her function in the story?  If she plays an active role in only a small part of the story, see if another, more active, character can take her place.  If so, cut.

Now look at the various bits of information that you tell your readers.  Do you describe a particular setting more than once?  Or reveal a bit of backstory two or three times?  Unless you reveal something more with the second telling, this is something else to cut.  This is what my writing buddy Margo Dill calls over writing.  One of these revelations needs to go.

For more information on how to focus your work during a rewrite, read today’s post at the Muffin.

–SueBE

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