Tuesday, December 13, 2011
How Editing is like Tithing in Reverse
When you edit, you're tithing ten percent, only it's not the best ten percent, and it's not going to God (or to the all-powerful reader). This ten percent goes right into the wastebasket. But it's still a gift. By culling it out of the story, your reader winds up with only the best. The last fruits, but in this case that's a good thing.
There are those who will tell you to edit out twenty, thirty, or even forty percent of your first draft, but I say, No, No. Let us not be extreme. Or, if we're going to be extreme, do it in steps. Edit ten percent. Clean it up. Edit another ten percent if necessary. Clean it up. And so on.
Cutting like a madwoman on a scissors rampage can kill the voice of your story. Here is my finely edited mystery:
He killed. She died. They solved. The End. Grunt.
Some advise taking out all of the adverbs. I'm not going to sink into a depression if I read "Tell her to go to hell," he said, jokingly. Maybe it's because I read a lot of old books. If Agatha Christie can get away with it, it's a rule that can be broken.
Posted by Jacqueline Vick at 2:59 PM