Founder of Submitit offers story editing suggestions
I have an entire checklist of stuff to cut in revision: adverbs (unless indispensable), passive voice (these gerunds!), and the filler words: understand, put, nod, shrug, very, up, down... a huge list! ll things I don't worry about in first draft because you have to let loose, right?
I've had a cutting-only session with two pieces today - worked wonders in both cases. Thank you for some great advice.
Nice list, Harper, although I always say that I put a text "to cool", not to bake. The cooling off metaphor is important to me because when I return to a text after letting it sit, I look at it with a colder, more detached eye. Here are a few more suggestions: search for the pronoun "that" and all the various forms of the verb "to be". "She said he was evil" is more effective than "She said that he was evil." If there's a more descriptive verb that is/are, use it. "She said he made her blood run cold." Finally, there may be words that you're too fond of and tend to overuse. Also, check for disharmonious repetitions and unintended internal rhymes.
Great article…I would also add: make sure you’re actually sending them your story…and not just the word template you’re using.
This was so helpful. I love the "night edit" concept. Thanks so much for sharing!
Great tips. Looking forward to part 2! Thank you.
Thanks for recommending In the Gloaming, by Elliott Dark. The title sounded so familiar. Turns out, I have a hardback copy of In The Gloaming among the many books in my archives I've yet to read. I've extracted it and elevated it to next-read status. Looking forward to the title story in particular and gleaning what I can about showing rather than telling!
Ah! Well thank you, Becky, for providing the platform and to Erik Harper Klass for his generosity in sharing his editorial expertise.
Thank you so much, Becky, for generously sharing your expertise to help the rest of us fine-tune our work and get published!
I'm one of those writers who actually enjoys editing and revision. I'm constantly amazed when changes in word choice and/or phrasing result in remarkable transformation; it feels like alchemy. And it seems, no matter how much I whittle down a piece, if I keep at it, I will always find more words and phrases to delete. In particular, when a call for submissions requires me to lower my word count substantially. I love watching my work become increasingly tight and concise.
Very good reminders. I have two pieces “in the oven”. Looking forward to laying eyes on them again and hoping for some progress through editing. Thank you...😉
Great tips. Thank you for sharing and I had to share it to my Facebook page: The Fringe 999. Writers helping writers is a beautiful thing.
Thank you, there’s a lot of helpful information here.
All excellent points and even though these are the bare basics it bears repeating over and over, even though it’s all telling. Just and had are two culprits you will find so often there is not enough paper to put them all. Cut them.
Although, George Saunders uses a lot of “just” (25) in his short story “Mother’s Day” often in close proximity to each other. Wonder if he would cut some of them if he’d were to write it today...
Any one who straddles the two separate fields of writing and professional editing would find this both familiar and revealing. Often some of the more subtle stuff we cut from clients slip up in our own writing. This piece manages to hold the mirror. It was the Part II that got me backtracking to this and they have been of amazing help.
Thank you, Erik. One of my failings is not 'showing' so I have to work hard at that Your article on editing is so important.
Kind regards Josephine Nolan