Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Editing Surprises

I took a brief hiatus from querying to sharpen my MS and hack and slash some words. I went from over 106,500 words (which I had this past spring) down to an astonishing 88,000. I didn't think I could cut that much, I really didn't. And when at 98,000 words, I even stated on my writing site that I could maybe cut 5,000 but NOT 10000 or whatever it was, but I DID. Yes, yes, yes. Doing a happy dance. Join in if you want.

In the word slashing stage, I really needed to look at each sentence with a fresh perspective to see if it was truly needed or if it could be changed up. I condensed passages of exposition, tightened dialogue, omitted anything unnecessary, already obvious or redundant. My mistake in the fall was that I was simply looking for words to cut. But, when I did that, my scenes lost personality. I ended up returning much of what I'd taken out to fix that. I mean, voice is what really makes your work stand out.

Along the way, I discovered some new and better turns of phrase and brought an even greater sparkle to my already quirky voice than I had before. So I'm really exicted about the end product.

I even added some things like some more internalization or action around dialogue, deeper perspective voices. So, I still can't believe I cut nearly 20,000 words. That's an amazing feat in my opinion, especially because I didn't have to hack off scenes.

Well, I did remove three small mom scenes, but I'd only added them later to make my work seem less YA, but now that I'm going YA, I made the mom's arc extremely minimal. But in all, these particular extractions only amounted to about 1500 words.

The new approach really worked for me and made my work much, much stronger. Now, I'm back in the hunt again.

So, when you're going through to edit, really think about how you can keep the essence of each sentence while relaying it with a more succinct, sharper, wittier delivery. That will take the sting out of killing your darlings. You'll be super excited with your work's shiny new luster and will be a better writer for it.

~ Signing off and sending out cyber hugs.


  1. This sentence is so good: "...when you’re going through to edit, really think about how you can keep the essence of each sentence while relaying it with a more succinct, sharper, wittier delivery." Writers, especially new ones need to keep this in mind.


  2. Thanks, Ann. I'm glad you liked it. I see a lot of overwriting with newbies too.

  3. Wow... Good for you! I think it's always best to see if the phrasing used originally worked best or not for both the voice as well as the style of the work. Admittedly I'm finding a lot of very published authors over using simile while newly published authors seem to be over using dialogue tags.

    Good words and thanks for giving me hope should I go back to an old manuscript to do more edits. :)

  4. Thanks. Sometimes the original phrasing IS the right way to go because it was birthed out of passion and creative zest. But sometimes our first offerings are just too wordy. We need to take off the rose -colored glasses and look at the work honestly.

  5. That first sentence in the last paragraph is what editing is all about - getting out the useless stuff and getting what matters across to your readers as succinctly as possible.

  6. Thanks for swinging by. It's sometimes hard to be so brutal with our own work, but to make it its absolute best, a little bit of crying is necessary.

  7. Finally a new perspective. Thanks!