Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Edit, cut, edit

So as predicted this week's turning out to be another washout as far as fresh writing is concerned, but at least I know I've got several ideas prepped and ready to be written when I do eventually manage to carve some free time out for little old me.

I mentioned in my last post that a competition was due to announce its monthly competition winners and sadly I wasn't among them again this month. Really disappointed actually as this story was definitely one of the best I've ever written in my opinion and certainly the one I've had most fun writing. Writing, however, is a subjective business as I've bemoaned many times and what one person thinks is brilliant the next might think is garbage; it's all about getting lucky and having your story read by someone who happens to like that genre or sub-genre. I entered a story to a competition once and got nowhere. I entered it again 3 months later without altering anything and made the shortlist - you never know.

So with that in mind coupled with the fact that I absolutely love the story in question and am determined to see it in print one way or another, I decided to try and give it a serious edit. There aren't many writing competitions out there with a 5000 word limit, but there are quite a few with a 3000 word limit. So the task this week has been to edit a 5000 word story down to a sub 3000 word story.

Every story you write has a certain amount of flab, I think we'd all agree that, so there was always going to be something I could cut. So on Monday I gave the story its first edit and managed to reduce the word count by 900 words approximately. I had to cut a few bits I didn't really want to lose but the rest was probably expendable. Yesterday I gave it its second edit and this was much harder. Although I reduced it by a further 700 words, this was more brutal and whole passages of dialogue were cut out; some of it broke my heart, but it had to be done. The story still read pretty well but was fitter, slimmer, but I stil needed to lose about 400 more words.

Today I attempted that task and I have to say that it's been a fantastic lesson in how to make your writing tight and economical. I have literally had to examine every word. All adverbs have been removed, verbs have been strengthened and some of the dialogue has been tightened up. Every single word has had to earn the right to be on the page. I finally finished with 2 words to spare and the end result is that I've got a really tight and crisp piece of writing without losing any of the story. The action moves along at a nice pace and there is no wastage.

All I've got to do now is convince a competition judge somewhere.

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