I know that I love to write. I like to record the daydreams that assault me every day, every waking moment. It makes me happy. But, like most writers (right?), I hate to revise. For me, revising is like having your teeth cleaned while getting an enema. It is just not pleasant.
But, we all need to be able to do it, because though you think you just wrote the perfect story, you didn’t.
Wouldn’t you know it, the next writing tip from the Writer’s Digest 25 Ways to Improve Your Writing in 30 Minutes a Day article is on this very topic. Brought to you by Mr. Art Spikol, here it is:
There are two good reasons for revising what you’ve written: Either you want to change something, or your editor, agent or client does. If the revision is your idea, that’s good. It means you know what you want, or what you suspect won’t fly. If the revision is by request, remember: The customer may not always be right, but she has the money and the medium—as well as the experience of buying for it. (You can fight for what you believe, of course, but choose your battles carefully. Races are won or lost in the final minutes.)
I knew a writer who would write a first draft and submit it without even reading it over. Others, myself included, substitute and trim and pinch and juggle until the work pours like melted butter.
With that in mind, here’s your 30-minute assignment:
Reduce by a third the word count of one of your recent efforts without losing its essence. (I did this myself, in fact, with my contributions to this article.) Note: Don’t constantly reread what you’ve written; if you memorize it, self-editing will be tougher. Put it away for a few days. Then read it fresh.
Nothing we haven’t heard of before. Coming off of NaNoWriMo, many may be tempted to pad the word count, but now is the time to go back and cut the bullshit.
It is amazing what you don’t need. For example, take the above paragraph. A moment ago, it looked something like this:
Nothing we haven’t heard of before, but it is always good to be reminded about cutting down on all the superfluous stuff. Coming off of NaNoWriMo, many may be tempted to add a descriptive phrase to pad the word count, but now is the time to go back over the manuscript and cut all that bullshit out.
I went from 57 words to 32 words, and retained the gist of what I wanted to say.
Go on, make your day, and cut unnecessarily adverbs and phrases. Your teeth and innards will gleam. Even if you do feel violated afterwards, your story will be better. 😀