No, despite the title, this is not a blog about violence. Instead, it’s a celebration of my recent accomplishment of editing a manuscript down from 141,000 words to 125,000 words. Yay me!
Sixteen thousand words is nothing to sneeze at, especially for a manuscript which had ostensibly been edited and critiqued previously. The first go round was content editing, deleting unnecessary paragraphs and consolidating long running scenes. I got to the halfway point using this strategy. Then, I despaired. I considered the rest of the content irreplaceable for story purposes. What was I to do?
Due to support and advice from my wonderful critique partners, I was able to forge forward and whittle down each page of the manuscript by tightening language. Thirteen words. If I cut just thirteen words from each page I’d make my goal.
Sounds arbitrary, doesn’t it, to decide a certain number of words had to go on each page? However, it forced me to look at my writing style. This manuscript happened to be an older one, so I’d learned much since I’d completed it, even post first go round of critiquing the baby. And, as shocking as it sounds, I reaffirmed that I’m a tad wordy. Imagine that? Unfortunately, I’m familiar with this sin of mine. It’s getting better, I promise.
Another ingredient in the success of throwing out words was my distance from the story. Having completed it years ago I was not as attached to every letter. Amazing what time brings. I am a great believer in the passage of time ameliorating all sorts of things. This apparently applies to my writing as well.
Aside from the benefit of finishing with a more marketable product (Because, really, who is going to buy a 141,000 word manuscript from a previously unpublished author?), the success filled me with confidence that my writing is evolving and growing stronger. An old dog can learn new tricks.
Are other writers out there able to see the transformation of their writing clearly? It’s not as simple as it sounds. Tell me about your improvements in your craft and help all of us celebrate the journey to becoming stronger writers.