So I realized that I used to have that whole Monday-Friday post schedule thing going on, and it was nice and you always knew when I was going to post something and now you definitely don't.
I'm sorry. :( Hopefully once I go back to school at the end of August, I'll have more time to schedule things.
For now, you get intermittent posting! Whoooooo!
If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen my outburst this week about a certain eleven thousand words. I cut said eleven thousand words from a manuscript I previously didn't think I could cut much from.
I cut no scenes or chapters. I only cut words and phrases and occasionally sentences.
The only reason I was able to do this was because of the guidance I received before beginning the edit:
"Read every sentence carefully. If all or part of it isn't relevant to the story in some way, cut it. Have something significant every five lines. Have something quotable every five lines."
Now before I go off recommending this advice to everybody, I want you to know that NO ADVICE APPLIES TO EVERYONE. That's how writing rules get started. And WRITING HAS NO RULES. Okay? Okay.
Here's why I think this advice is good when you're able to take a critical eye to your own manuscript:
Read every sentence carefully. If all or part of it isn't relevant to the story in some way, cut it. Well. This should be obvious. If what you're writing isn't helping the story, why is it in there? This doesn't mean your writing needs to be sparse, but it also doesn't mean that you should pack everything you can in there under the excuse it's relevant to the story. This bit of advice is especially helpful for people like me, who tend to put extra words and details into a story when they really have no purpose, or won't be missed when they're gone.
That's the easiest way to figure out what you should keep and what you should cut, I think -- what will you miss when it's gone? What will leave a gap in the storytelling? What's an essential component?
Have something significant every five lines. This was what really helped me. This doesn't mean that you need to have some deep, theme-setting character thought every five lines of the story. That would be ridiculous. To me, this means you need something every five lines that makes people think or laugh or get teary eyed. Something to keep them reading. If you just have lines and lines of insignificance, people will get bored.
Have something quotable every five lines. This is similar but slightly different than the last one, if only for the reason that I think it might make more sense to different people. Have you gone to Goodreads and looked up quotes for a certain book? And sometimes there are just quotes upon quotes upon quotes? That's what your book should be like. Give your readers a feast.
I don't know if this will help anyone else, but it certainly helped me. I went from 95k to 84k in just a few days. (That wasn't so much the advice as it was the fact that I have Ludicrous Speed Editing.)
[Ludicrous Speed Editing isn't a real thing, btw.]
What about you? Have any good editing advice that slapped you upside the head?