Thursday, August 09, 2007

Ex-Size Part II ...

There is a lot of advice for writers: free, expensive, great, terrible, contradictory. One tidbit that I think all writers should heed is this: Do what works for you.

I'll add to it: Be honest with yourself about what works. For example, editing after each draft had been a soul-grinding fight for myself.

In a prior post I had to get a story down to 6,000 words to meet a submissions guideline. Editing to that goal worked well. It was not drudgery, it was a puzzle to be solved, word by word, sentence by sentence. Not only was the story shorter, it was tighter, cleaner, better. (Okay, who else hears the intro from the Six Million Dollar Man in their heads?)

I repeated the process on another story. It had been rejected four times. I could have sent it out again, but tried this first. The story had a word count north of 7,600. Using Cheryl Mills' suggestion of 10%, I went at it.

On the first pass, I cut as if with a machete. Second time with a scalpel. How do I get rid of a word in this line? Five in this paragraph? Twenty on this page? It was, dare I say it, easy. Almost, fun. It made editing enjoyable. The word count went south of 6,900. And it is a tighter, cleaner, better story.

It works for me. Maybe not for everyone. What works for you?

5 Comments:

Blogger Steve Buchheit said...

I used to use that 10% rule for my drafts. Until I was given permission to make my second drafts longer. And that has made a lot of difference. I tend to write a real crappy thin first draft and then with the second draft I go through and flesh out the description, add in all the stuff I had in my mind but didn't get down on paper. I'm getting better with my first drafts, but I still need to add in. With the second and third drafts I'm still rewriting parts, moving things around, changing words, making edits. I save the real close editing for after I think I have the story together. That way I'm not editing things that will be cut, and adding in big swaths of things that I miss editing later.

And I've found deadlines to be excellent tools. My self-imposed deadlines don't work, but when I have an external clock ticking, I can perform.

August 9, 2007 at 6:05 PM  
Blogger Camille Alexa said...

I go through phases.

August 10, 2007 at 12:25 AM  
Blogger Todd Wheeler said...

Steve: Interesting process. And I agree, external deadlines are great. It's tough being one's own boss.

Camille: Well, you're phases are getting you published a lot. Whatever they are, keep up the fantastic work.

August 10, 2007 at 12:43 AM  
Blogger Steve Buchheit said...

Camille, yeah, they sure do seem to be working for you.

August 12, 2007 at 12:25 AM  
Blogger Camille Alexa said...

Thanks guys, y'all're too sweet.

August 12, 2007 at 11:11 AM  

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