The process of editing and rewriting.
Cutting words from your work can suck. It can, without a doubt, be one of the toughest parts of the writing process, especially when you either a) have to cut a lot of words/pages b) have to add a lot of words/pages or c) to cut huge sections and redo them.
Figuring out what can stay and what can go is one of the challenges of making your story the strongest it can be. Here are a few things that can help (and by the way, making gifs on Photoshop is a great way to waste time but an awful way to get editing done.) These are basically things that I do once I have a first draft of a story.
- See what words you frequently use.
You can use wordle to create word clouds of your text and examine what words show up the most by how large they appear (and what words in general appear).
Another great way to check this is to use wordcounter which will create a list that shows you exactly how many times a certain word has been used. Here’s the same story’s results with wordcounter.
I think wordcounter is more practical but I just love how pretty wordle is.
2. Cut any scene that isn’t moving the story forward.
Even if you have written the best description of a thunderstorm ever to have been written, if it isn’t advancing your story then it needs to go. This can be one of the hardest parts and I usually try to save these little gems in a graveyard word document.
One way to find these scenes is to re-read your story and mark the sections you start to skim over. A better way to do this is to ask a friend to mark the sections they skimmed through. If people aren’t reading those sections then something’s wrong and it needs to hit the floor or be reworked.
3. Read your work out loud.
If you stumble, then highlight that section and go back to look at it later, but read your work out loud. You can even ‘cheat’ and have your computer read it to you; this can really highlight areas that are awkward or that drag forever.
4. Check your beginning.
A lot of times the beginning of your story will need to be cut because you started too soon and have too much just meandering until the story actually begins. You can also have the opposite problem where you start the story too late and need to go back and add information. Look at your beginning very carefully when editing.
5. Check your timeline.
Most of the time when I edit, I realize that I have three sun rises in one day, or four Sundays in a week. I’ve started writing out what happens day by day in an old planner to keep myself in line, but checking your timeline is crucial to a good edit.
Those are just a very, very few things that I do when I’m going through my first draft. What kind of techniques do you use?