Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Edit It Cold

My writing, like me, could stand to lose 30 pounds.

Try as I might to write lean and edit leaner, surplus words still slip in.

Ironic, since much of my time as a freelance book editor goes toward liposuctioning fat from another's writing.

Overwriting is certainly one of my literary vices,” my current client said after I'd emailed him a sample of how I'd edit his novel, “so please feel free to apply a chainsaw (rather than a scalpel) as you see fit.”

He may not realize I do the same with my own words.

At my day job, I sometimes adapt articles from material I first posted here. I open the file hoping I won't have to change much. I'm almost always wrong.

The difference? Months have passed, giving me a fresh perspective. Instead of viewing the words as my own, I can see them more objectively.

Instead of seeing what I meant to write, I see what I actually wrote.

Time to start cutting.

New York Times bestselling novelist Jerry B. Jenkins advises writers to print their work, put the pages in the freezer overnight, then look at them cold.

With some metaphoric allowance, that works for me.

3 comments:

Ron Estrada said...

If writers had to weigh in their books like truck drivers, I'd pay fines every week. It is the hardest thing for me to do--cut my story down to a manageable size. But I do end up making changes to the plot, my characters, and even the setting as I do so. That kind of surgery reveals all flaws, not just the excess fat. I'll try the freezer thing. Hope it won't hurt my Macbook.

Linda Glaz said...

Yeah, I have trouble keeping it down.

Diana said...

Ha, what a good word picture you left us with. Brr!