December 11th, 2015

BrainUnderRepair
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Writing Excuses 10.46: How Do I Make This Pretty?

Writing Excuses 10.46: How Do I Make This Pretty?

From http://www.writingexcuses.com/2015/11/15/writing-excuses-10-46-how-do-i-make-this-pretty/

Key points: How do you improve the prose, line-by-line, paragraph-by-paragraph? Did the readers say they were bored? Present the information faster. Avoid tell, then show. Cut redundancies. Maximize the delivery of a block of prose -- funniest word last, turn it upside down. Try writing one sentence per concept. Look at parallelism. Did the readers say confusing or unbelievable? Order of information, internal state? Clean up the blocking. Check the adverbs, and replace with descriptions? Add sensory details. Make sure you follow the character's attention. Tweak your paragraphing, your chapter breaks? Watch for $5 words, and make change. Replace vague words with concrete. Turn negative information into positive. Change the font, and read it again. Then cut 10%.
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[Brandon] We are out of time. But I want to give you a bit of homework here. This is actually my exercise that started with my editor teaching me to do it on my very first book, which was to cut 10% line-by-line. This is after you've already cut the scenes you don't need, and even the paragraphs you don't need. He said then go and take a page, find out how many words are on that page, and cut exactly 10% of those words. Do it for every page in your book. I don't usually do this like now in the same way. Then I got out a spreadsheet, and I just did it. I did it chapter by chapter rather than page by page. But it was so useful to me that I did it on my first three or four books, exactly 10%. Now I've got by instinct that I'll look through a revision, and I'll have cut seven or 8%, just naturally doing a polish. So I want you to do that on one of your pieces. Force yourself to cut 10%. I'll add the caveat that there are the rare writers who don't add too much in their orig... Initial draft and need to add. A lot of short story writers... Eric James Stone is this way. He actually is too sparse, and trimming 10% actually makes his writing worse. He needs to go and add 10%. But give this a try and see if it works out for you. This has been Writing Excuses. Thank you, Writing Excuses cruise members.
[Whoo! Applause!]
[Brandon] You are out of excuses, now go write.
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