Cutting room

Heading out in a moment or two for my lunchtime session of “making a long book noticeably shorter”, it strikes me how much I’m enjoying the process. In early drafts my tendency is to sprinkle the words around to make sure I get the atmosphere across or provide a bit of scaffolding for a scene. When I polish, later on, I take a lot of that stuff away, but I don’t always have the guys to nip out all of it.

So, it’s interesting going back to the book after a considerable time away from it. There are still a fair number of doubled up adjectives that don’t really warrant being there: “dank” and “murky”? Choose one. There’s still a quite a few scaffolding clauses–the kind that help the author imagine the scene but don’t do so much for the reader: “the bell pull by the door”? Where else would it be? Snip. What else? Speech tags where it’s obvious who’s speaking? Gone. Doubled-up verbs too: “he made an adjustment to the mechanism?” Sheesh. Let’s just go with “he adjusted” and get on with the story.

All of it is improvement. Sometimes it’s nice to get the opportunity to go back and edit something you thought was done and dusted.

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