The glorious unburdening of less

October 8, 2014

Editing can be a painful process. You must kill your darlings, taking funny point of dialogue, cool action moves, and even entire scenes and cutting them. It hurts to leave behind something that could have been great, were it not holding your story back.

But that’s for the larger edits. For the smaller edits, the copy edits—those are actually sort of fun. Really! Taking a sentence and cutting it down to its essence, carving out an extra “then” or an errant “the”, paring down the descriptive text and streamlining the dialogue until it sparkles is actually sort of fun.

It’s strange. Editing isn’t supposed to be the fun part, and compared to writing, it’s not. But taking this thing you’ve created and uncovering its hidden potential amid the extra words is wonderful. It’s like a burden is lifted off the text, and you as well.

It’s not that editing is fun. It’s tedious and draining. But the result is something else. It may be hard, but the result is worth it. Cut away the dross, and the story below can shine. That’s when you find out how good your story really is.

As always, thank you for using my Amazon Affiliate link (info).

By Stephen W. Gee

Author of Wage Slave Rebellion, Freelance Heroics, and about two good blog posts out of a hundred.

4 Comments

  1. Reply

    ReverseTales

    I know that some novels have extra scenes that aren’t really central to the plot in extra volumes.

    I understand that it’s not really possible to do unless the scenes are chapter-length, and are interesting instead of pointless.

    But then, sometimes I read extra stuff that have been placed at the end of the book, removed to preserve the flow of the story, but are pretty entertaining nonetheless.

    So I suppose there’s different ways of going about editing, and it depends on the sort of content being cut out, huh?

    1. Reply

      Stilts

      It’s a delicate balancing act. Some things need to be cut because they detract from the flow, but I consciously left some things in that did detract from the flow if they added something worth that interruption … extra detail about the world, the characters, etc. Plus, some stories thrive off that ancillary information more than others do, or even on just having a dash of style that makes reading it more fun.

      But generally, less is better. That’s one of those old sayings that’s true, but hard to make work until you have the experience.

  2. Reply

    zeonista

    Since you can get past the hard choices to the final process, you are already 100% more of a writer than I can be! 😀

    1. Reply

      Stilts

      I’ll accept being a better writer than you are right now. Can be, though? Forever is a long time. You just have to dare yourself to challenge me.

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