Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Less is More

People think of novelists typing away, linking lots and lots of words together until they have a novel, and yep, we do that. But sometimes we concentrate on deleting words instead. Tightening is a big part of writing.

I just completed an intensive edit on one of my novels, MIND SHADOW. I didn't change the story or the characters, but the novel is now 9,000 words shorter than before. And so much better.

Mind Shadow is one of my earlier novels, and my editing skills have sharpened since I worked on it last. I rewrote passages that were over-explained or repetitive. I eliminated unnecessary details, shortened and relaxed stilted dialogue, and adjusted scenes that needed to end before they did or began before they should. I replaced phrases, sentences, and paragraphs with more concise versions that said the same thing, only better.

It wasn't easy. Tightening a novel can be harder work than writing first draft, but it gives a great sense of accomplishment and really improves how the novel reads. What may have plodded along before now races, and I think readers notice when writing is crisp. I do.

I could go on and on about this subject, but since this post is about keeping words to a minimum, I'm done.

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