For those of you who enjoy watching torture or would like to learn the edit process, we’ll start with this line. Cut it. I just said the same thing in the sentence before. Ugly, isn’t it?
I’ve been writing long enough to know my idiosyncrasies far too well. My first drafts tend to be little more than wordy outlines that have to be trimmed and manipulated into a clear picture, then painted and expanded into a moving film. So if my first draft is 100k words, I’m in heap big trouble. Since I started out writing 175k word books, I’m usually in trouble.
So I’ve learned to trick myself. (Yeah, I’m dumb. Wanta make something of it?) Instead of using manuscript format when I write that original draft, I use wide margins and large font so ten pages equals 2000 words instead of 2500. But I write and rewrite as I craft that first draft, so that I still sometimes end up with 105k words. Like I said, I’m wordy.
That’s when the ugly part steps in. I have to go back in and ferret out all those places like above where I’ve said the same thing twice, in different ways. Usually, my first clue is the word “and.” I love rephrasing the same line in several ways and binding them together with a conjunction. I’m sure they’re all lovely phrases, but I have to decide which ones are most effective and whack the rest. The sentences are a little tougher to locate and even tougher to whack. My editor ends up finding a lot of them. For whatever reason, I adore my sentences.
Then I have to go through and find my “word of the book.” In the case of this blog, it’s rather evident the word is “so.” I have no idea why my brain latches onto a word and finds a hundred million ways of using it, but it does. I have to whack that sucker, rewrite those sentences, find a thesaurus, get out of the rut. Usually, I find ways to streamline in the process. Re-read prior sentence.
If I’m still desperate to trim, I hunt down phrases like “to her,” “over there,” and “with him.” They’re almost always implied and seldom necessary. By that time, it’s almost fun. I look for paragraphs with just a few words in the last line, whack the prepositional phrases, and watch the paragraph shrink by an entire line. I’m learning sadism can be fun.
And that’s just editing for word count. You ought to see what I do when I’m editing to make the danged thing make sense!