Dec 20

Serious Editing and Cutting

Serious Editing and Cutting


Inexperienced writers tend to find it difficult to embark on serious editing and cutting back of their work.
Once they have put time and effort into writing something, many writers are loathe to discard what they have produced but it is necessary to become more ruthless if you want to improve and develop as a writer.

Having done the research is not a reason for including anything. It should mean that your writing is well informed and your information is correct.
Tell the story.
You do not need explain and describe all of the background information in a fictional novel, just get it right!

You need to know so that you do not put in incorrect ‘facts’.

The reader needs to be entertained and to trust you to have found enough background to make it realistic and plausible.

In creating characters the writer needs to know their protagonists inside out. Having spent hours creating detailed character profiles there is a temptation to describe all their traits and idiosyncrasies, in full for the reader.


Think about real life. We form our own opinions about people and get to know them gradually, through the things they do and say. Keep your main characters consistent, ‘in character’ and distinct from each other and your reader will get to know what they need to know and remember. They will be able to say how they would expect him/her to react in a given situation as they see how he deals with the challenges and conflicts he is presented with. They will recognise deliberate and plausible character development and also uncharacteristic ‘out of character’ behaviour.

They actually do not have to have exactly the same opinion of them as you, just as people see others differently in the real world!

If you have secondary characters who in the end do not actually contribute to the main story then be prepared to write them out.
If a sub-plot does not add to the whole change it, or get rid of it altogether. If you start to find something in your work boring, inconsequential or irrelevant then your reader certainly will.

No professional writer expects their first draft to be the finished product. Sometimes a series of rewrites means that the original story has practically disappeared, from so many better ideas and alterations being introduced, by the time it sees the light of day. Most writers would expect to do at least four major redrafting and revising exercises before they even think about polishing, editing, proof reading or submitting to a publisher. I know two who claim to do 30 rewrites on average!
Bash out the first draft by all means while the ideas are flowing and the plot outline takes shape.

That is then your raw material. You still need to craft it, style it, scrutinise it and give it as severe a makeover as necessary, giving up on and cutting anything that does not work, until you are satisfied that it is as good as you can make it.
Category: Advice and Information. Tags: Creative writing,Appropriate language,Description, Revising, correcting editing.

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  1. […] Don’t be like Jack; edit your work […]

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