Jump to content

Editing and struggle: chopping ones own words


Warrior1

Recommended Posts

Initially I wanted to write a novel, which I soon realized is pretty futile (at this rate I'll take like 50 years to finish even the first draft, lol), so turned whatever I have written into a short story / novella. Anyway, that's not the point. Now that it's over, I'm editing it, and I see editing is just as much difficult and laborious a job as that of writing it.

What I find the most difficult about editing isn't correcting grammar, moving a part here to there or even fixing plot problems etc: it is the very act of cutting the words I so laboriously wrote. When I read books, I don't like authors just filling pages upon pages with meaningless details and unnecessary scenes. I like books which are tightly paced  and have been considerably edited, where all the ramblings and unimportant side stories or excessive descriptions are deleted to produce a coherent story. So with my own writing, too, I am trying to do the same. I am cutting so many lines here and there, that nearly 1/3 of my writing I feel has to go if I want to make it compact and tightly paced.

But it's difficult. Each line took so much care and thinking and dedication to write. It pains me to think I will have to delete so many things, but really it's for the betterment of the story. The 'kill your darling' phrase was made up for a reason after all.

So just wanted to know you writers' input. Does it bother you when you need to cut down many aspects of your writing? Not just in case of editing, sometimes when rewriting, like changing third person POV to first person, you will have to cut down others POV etc. So does it distress you to shorten your words -- words which we once so lovingly crafted onto the paper?

  • Like 5
Link to comment

Interesting. I hadn't thought about this, maybe because I don't delete enough during editing. On the other hand, my beta readers are more likely to tell me to expand a scene than to remove text. ( @Valkyrie  I'm looking at you :lol: )

If you feel sad about deleting lines, why don't you remove them to another document and save it for later use ? I sometimes do that, if I wrote parts which I later decide don't fit in the current chapter.

  • Like 3
  • Love 1
Link to comment

Maybe in the beginning it bothered me, not anymore. My primary editor has trained me to 'simplify' as much as possible. I'm working on something and limiting myself to thousand-word chapters. The restriction forces me to look at each word and decide if they add anything. If not, it gets cut. It's a great feeling to convey a thought or action in as few words as possible.

The best advice I can give you is to find someone to help you. Self-editing is a good thing, but whenever I read a story nobody but the author's worked on, I can tell. No matter how hard we try we miss things. A second--or a second, third, fourth--set of eyes are a wonderful thing.

 

  • Like 4
Link to comment
9 hours ago, Warrior1 said:

So does it distress you to shorten your words -- words which we once so lovingly crafted onto the paper?

No, it doesn't bother me. Delete unnecessary words, are words i write by.  Time is your friend. Once your document has rested for a few weeks ... look at it with fresh eyes and be prepared to cut things out.  Having a good editor is also very helpful.

  • Like 5
Link to comment
  • 2 weeks later...
13 hours ago, Thorn Wilde said:

I more frequently have the opposite problem... My first drafts are very bare bones, simple, sometimes almost entirely dialogue in certain places. Not a lot of descriptions. So when I edit, I embellish a bit more, to give it some life. Then I may go and delete some things again, but it's rarely needed. It doesn't much bother me when I do. If a phrase needs changing, I change it.

I read it that first drafts are supposed to be the bare bone, and then you add all the details as you go in your second and third draft, but for me it's the opposite: I write as much (including all the descriptions) in my first draft. Then go on to edit the story, to make it more streamlined, correcting things etc.

  • Like 4
Link to comment
4 hours ago, Warrior1 said:

I read it that first drafts are supposed to be the bare bone, and then you add all the details as you go in your second and third draft, but for me it's the opposite: I write as much (including all the descriptions) in my first draft. Then go on to edit the story, to make it more streamlined, correcting things etc.

A lot of people do that. There is no one correct way of writing. There’s no “supposed to”. Your method is your own. If it works for you, then it’s right for you. That’s all that matters. So you just keep doing things your way. :) 

Edited by Thorn Wilde
  • Like 4
Link to comment
On 6/12/2019 at 11:34 PM, Warrior1 said:

I read it that first drafts are supposed to be the bare bone, and then you add all the details as you go in your second and third draft, but for me it's the opposite: I write as much (including all the descriptions) in my first draft. Then go on to edit the story, to make it more streamlined, correcting things etc.

 

On 6/13/2019 at 4:09 AM, Thorn Wilde said:

A lot of people do that. There is no one correct way of writing. There’s no “supposed to”. Your method is your own. If it works for you, then it’s right for you. That’s all that matters. So you just keep doing things your way. :) 

Could not agree with @Thorn Wilde more.  There is never a right or wrong way to write your story.  And you can write it.  If I can do it, anybody can.

As far as first draft being bare bones?  Yeah, I can see that.  My first run would be about 6k words or something like that and by the time I "edited" it, it would be closer to 10k.  But there was things that had to go, or rather be changed to maintain the story.  And, yeah, it sucks when you worked really hard to write a big section only to read it over later and realize it has to go.  But you do it and in the end, you're glad you did it because it makes the story better in the long run.

  • Like 3
  • Love 1
Link to comment
  • 2 weeks later...

 

I've had a lot of painful moments where I had to cut out a few meaningful lines of dialogue or descriptions that sort of came to me 'in the moment', that I know I'll never be able to recreate again. Hehehe, I know the heartache involved with having to see them go. Even if you save those lines and try to use those same words elsewhere. Word to the wise...they almost NEVER fit elsewhere! LOL! Once in a while, you get lucky, and can insert them into another story...but if you write 'in the moment' like I do...you just have to wait for another moment. I don't know. It's like the connection gets broken or something.

But...once you get in the habit of taking these extra words and phrases and metaphors out of your stories, and you take notice of WHY you had to do that...over time, you'll begin to write without putting that extra into your stories at all. I can still find myself being wordy at times in my writing, but I've also learned to cut back on some of the fat that I write in my stories. The next time you're editing, and you have to take something out, ask yourself why it seems like it's too much. Or why it's repetitive. Or why it doesn't fit. Understanding the 'why' will actually begin to seep into your writing process over time, and with practice, you'll find yourself having to discard less and less of your best lines. You just evolve.

It still sucks sometimes though. LOL! Trust me, I know! But it's easier to train yourself not to write these extra sentences than it is to have to erase them once you got them down perfect! :P

  • Like 1
Link to comment
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

Our Privacy Policy can be found here: Privacy Policy. We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue..