Thursday, March 19, 2015

Spring has Sprung: Weeding Out the Dry Stuff in Your Writing

For the last few days I have been weeding in my yard, mostly pulling and cutting the dead stuff from plants. We had a very mild winter in Utah (though I've heard some of you haven't fared the same) but the plants around my yard are still needing a little TLC.
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Your writing may need the same weeding and cutting as my plants. Some thoughts on how I do it.

Take the driest stuff out first. You will see this dry stuff as you read your manuscript out loud. I take out scenes that don't contribute to the overall plot, characters that haven't really contributed: I may have them at the first of the book only to discover they never showed up again. I can sometimes mesh this dead character with another; there are even times I can completely take them and their scene out of the story without affecting the plot. This is the time to rearrange chapters if necessary, and to clean up big chunks of dryness.

The weeds come next. I like to call these those sentences that need to be reconstructed, those paragraphs that need to be taken out or shifted, those words that can be upgraded for better ones.

Sweeping up comes last. You don't want to leave dry leaves, branches and weeds scattered everywhere. I call these in writing, the once more read over. Not necessarily out loud, but a read-over nonetheless.

Of course, even then, after you've given your manuscript to beta readers and editors, they will indeed find errors, but at least you've uncovered the basics; your manuscript should be clean enough for someone else to read without stumbling through the debris in every sentence.

It's rewarding to see a carefully weeded yard. And it's equally rewarding (if not more so) to see an equally weeded manuscript.

Happy Editing!


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