Wednesday, May 23, 2012


I'm in edit mode (and have been for a while now), and it's in such a state that I start trimming words.  It's easy to fall into verbose sentences during a rough draft.  Like the Spice, the ideas must flow.  But when it's time to edit, bring out the clippers.

Here are a few patterns I fall into:

Failing to think of the right word.  Rough draft: Jim bought a ticket for the underground train.  Trimming: Replace "underground train" with "subway".

Cramming.  Rough draft: Jim soiled his crisp, white shirt and silk tie - a gift from his wife two years ago - due to tripping on the third step from the bottom and spilling decaf coffee on himself.  Trimming: Break this into several sentences and lose the non-essential details.

Extra words for no purpose (good for high-school essays but bad for stories).  Rough draft: Jim wanted to get to his hometown where he grew up.  Trimming: It's assumed he grew up in his hometown - otherwise it wouldn't be his hometown - so get rid of the phrase "where he grew up".

Sheer confusion.  Rough draft: Jim thought he could outrun ended up left around midnight.  Trimming: Figure out what in the world this sentence is supposed to say and get rid of the rest.  I don't see this too often, but it's usually a result of trying to edit while I'm writing the rough draft - always a dangerous proposal.  So I start rewriting a sentence before actually finishing it, resulting in multiple versions, awkwardly coexisting.

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