The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Brevity is Next to Godliness

According to the internet (and we all know that the internet never peddles alternative facts to people and calls them the truth), Johann Wolfgang Goethe wrote a lengthy letter to a friend. He finished it with a PS: "I am very sorry for sending you such a long letter but I did not find enough time to write a shorter one."

Writing succinctly does take more time than meandering all around the story as we beat around the bush, develop diarrhea of the keyboard and beat dead horses. Sometimes, writing even requires--shudder--that we delete some of our work.

Yep. That's right. Sometimes as writers we have to deconstruct. We find ourselves deleting words, lines or (horror!) pages... and it's frustrating.

Now, when I do NaNoWriMo, I try to delete as little as possible. All I'm focused on with NaNo is getting to the 50,000-word finish line.  I know my WIP's a pile of steaming poop, this first draft, and since I already know it's going to need loads of revision, I keep most of the word count intact.

There are times we have to cut a part we find particularly clever:  it doesn't mesh with the rest of the tone.  We have to slash a word here and a few words there, since we're over the word limit. We're gonna have to trash a whole page because the dialogue is deadly dull... and we put our heads in our hands and moan, since that means we're going to have to rewrite it... and it might be the third or fourth crack at that particular scene.


photo by pixabay

I love this construction sign because it makes me think of shoveling "stuff." There are times when I'm writing... and I feel like I have a shovel in my hand instead of a pen. 

What kind of revision tricks do you have up your sleeve?  Shoveling minds want to know...

12 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. MZ--And THAT is why your poems are so brilliant AND so succinct. I'll have to buy myself one of those...

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  2. Reading out loud or reading to someone always helps me revise!

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    Replies
    1. Margo--Reading it aloud DOES help us see problems with the rhythm of the piece, along with missing words and so many other things we need to fix.

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  3. Sorry that I was not the first to comment. I was meandering around a 20-page blog post. I never met a revision that I liked. I have a little problem. But hey! Admitting I have a problem is the first step, right?

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    Replies
    1. Val--Now if only Hick would take that first step...

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  4. Revision tricks, huh? I'm with Val. The trick is getting me to do it. :-)

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    1. Cathy--Yeah, it's so much easier to just let it sit, rather than pick it up and start tearing it apart. But apparently you do--at some point--you DO manage to dabble in the revision process. After all, you're the Queen of the Korean (Children's) Book Market...

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  5. Lately I've been seeing a lot of FB posts where people start writing a book and in a month--ta da!--it's done and they're ready to publish it. Boggles my mind. I can write a first draft fairly quickly, but the revisions? Takes me forever and a day.

    Pat
    www.patwahler.com

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    Replies
    1. Pat--I'm glad I don't do FB. I'd be quite despondent. A book in a month? I wonder how good of a book it is...

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  6. Shoot. Blogger lost my comment. Okay, so...I cut most adverbs and extra adjectives, and by "extra" I mean more than one. If I can't find a single adjective to describe a noun, then I'm not thinking hard enough. One adjective is okay. Multiple adjectives are speed bumps. Although there are excepts to every rule. *sigh*

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    1. Lisa--I hate when that happens. I have to chuckle when I read a story that includes a string of adjectives, such as "He sat down on the lumpy, turquoise armchair, next to the mustard-yellow couch." Somebody told them they should include sensory details. Does the color really matter? Of course not, but that doesn't stop them from including the color of the door, the car, the lollipop, and so on.

      By the way, when you write your book on writing, you can include that "speed bump" metaphor. It's a good one.

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