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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Crafting Corner—I’m seeing RED


I’m an over-writer (is that a term? It is now). My MS is too long (91K) and on this editing pass I’m cutting words—a lot of words. My goal is to cut 10K from my story. So out comes the red pen and a plan.

If I cut 25 words per page, by the time I get to the end it will have cut 10K. Now 25 words per page seems easy to me and it won’t really change my story. It will just make it tighter.

Let me give you a real life example. I edited this just last night. So straight from my MS, this is section is 80 words…


Once inside, Breck slumped into one of the kitchen chairs. He started to bring his half empty bottle to his lips and Taggert snatched it away. Breck didn’t notice until his hand met his face.
“I think you’ve drunk enough,” Taggert said. “We’ll put this over here, for later.”
“You take such good care of me,” Breck said, smiling. “He…he…saved my life you know,” he said slurring toward Jocelyn. His head hit the table top and he was out—asleep.


Now the edit :)

            Once inside, Breck slumped into one of  the kitchen chairs. He started to bring  brought thehis half empty bottle to his lips and Taggert snatched it away. Breck didn’t notice until his hand met his face.
“I think you’ve drunk enough,” Taggert said. “We’ll save put this over here, for later.”
“You take such good care of me,” Breck slurredsaid, smiling. TagTag…saved my life you know.,he said slurring toward Jocelyn. His head hit the table top and he was out—asleep.

Right there I just cut 13 words and didn’t really change the intent of my paragraph, 12 more and I’ve hit my goal. I think it makes everything a little tighter.

I guess my advice for today is—If you need to cut a large amount of words take it slow and take it page by page.

Do you have any tips for cutting words?

-Angie

23 comments:

Danielle B. said...

I try to remember not to us the words "just" & "that" those real bad fillers. You can take them out of any sentence without making any other adjustments. Good luck with your editing!

Kyra Lennon said...

Editing is hard, but I do it the way you do. A bit at a time until everything is tightened up. Good luck with it!

RachelMaryBean said...

I coach speech and we are constantly cutting things for that. (As in cutting a whole novel down to an eight minute speech.) Cutting has become my specialty. :)

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I tend to "under write" in my novels but "over write" in my short stories/flash. For those, I ask myself (over and over) - what is the real story here, the true story? What NEEDS to stay and what CAN go?

Meredith said...

Cutting out filler words is definitely the way to go! I also look for scenes that don't advance the plot--getting rid of those usually keeps the word count down!

Hildred said...

Haha, 90k. That makes me laugh because I write 300k+ novels.

My chapters tend to be about 10k each. My "goal" if I really have one is to try to cut up to 1k a chapter. Usually it ends up being more around 500 or so.

Kelley said...

I guess my tip for editing is don't be afraid to let the reader come to a few conclusions themselves. One of the biggest ones I see when I edit is when the story is in first person and there are only two characters in the scene you don't need to say. 'Big handsome dude turned to me, his eyes possessive of me, his muscles tense.' We know he turned to HER. She's the only other person in the scene. :) So it can be simplified to 'Big handsome dude turned, eyes possessive, muscles tense.' It's okay to let the reader make a lot of connections.

Cassie Mae said...

That's an awesome awesome way to do it! great tips Angie!!

Rena said...

That's how I do it (you know, after I've actually written it). My first drafts are filled with passive voice, thats, justs, and all the other great offenders (who offend #@%%^ly).

prerna pickett said...

great advice! I need to do this.

Melissa Sarno said...

Love this tip. I think you're right about page by page rather than huge chunks. My fiance is a former reporter and he told me to remove one word from every sentence. I use that tip for everything I write. Good luck with your revisions! :)

Elizabeth Seckman said...

I'm an over writer too. I have been able to cut whole chapters and never miss them.

Johanna Garth said...

Aside from what you're doing, line-by-line, a quick way is to search for "that" most of the time it can be cut and "ly" I tend to throw in lots of unnecessary adverbs that get cut out later.

Leigh Covington said...

This is great advice. So true. And it really DOES tighten the story. Great example.

Chantele Sedgwick said...

I'm not really an over writer... I tend to fill in words when I'm done. Make it sound more intellectual. ;)

Emily R. King said...

Hahahaha! I've cut almost 100k from my first draft of Sun Stones. No, I'm not kidding. I feel your pain, Angie! But you're taking it one page at a time. That's the only way to go. Since you read my MS, I've cut another 10k. Crazy!
So can I reread The Alabaster Refugee when you're done slicing and dicing?

James Duckett said...

Nice. I overwrite, knowing I'll cut later. It does make it a lot cleaner, easier to read, and enjoyable!

Sara Bulla said...

Great advice Angie! And I really like the changes. It improves your writing. Nice. I also love the new look of the blog. Really nice!

J. A. Bennett said...

I seem to need more words by the end. I just write conversations and don't put any other description in, I guess I need to work on that!

Stacy Henrie said...

My crit group does a great job of cutting words. My first manuscript was WAY TOO LONG. With my other three books I've gotten shorter, which means my problem now is needing to add to the word count. :)

Aldrea Alien said...

Huh, everything I write seems to gain in the editing procress. My first story, a fantasy coming in at 135k somehow grew to 186k. o_O And I CUT so much from it, how it gained an extra 51k is beyond me.

On the other hand, I also have a 33k novella and a 66k story. So I've hope that I can stay within a wordcount limit. Just not with my first story.

Gwen said...

I had to do that too, reduce 8,600 to 7,500. It wasn't that hard, if you go line by line, but it's very tedious. Usually when I edit though, I add, because people tell me I need to expand scenes. Don't help though when there's a word limit on submissions :/

Tara Tyler said...

you want to talk slash? pull out a synopsis! ah!

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