Thursday, January 22, 2009

Weed or Flower: How to Decide

“The fact is most beginning fiction writers write too much. This is fine and dandy - to be encouraged for a first draft but when it comes to editing, you'll need to give that delete key a thorough work out!” -- Rob Parnell in If in Doubt, Leave It Out
I find this to be true of my own writing, even now. I’m good at weeding the dandelions from first drafts, but it gets harder to decide what’s a weed and what’s a flower as I continue editing.

Normally, I write at least three --more like five or six -- revisions before I send a piece for review, or submit it to a publisher. I check the grammar and eliminate those extraneous words and pet phrases that only the author can love. I do this because I want the reader to be able to comment on the plot line, setting and characters without becoming frustrated by sloppy editing on my part.

Sometimes, if I’m unsure about a word or sentence in a piece I plan to submit to my critique group, I leave it in to see if anyone comments on that section. Other times, I submit a story for critique out of frustration, because I can’t decide if it’s finished or not. Heck, I struggle with many of the posts on this blog, wondering if I included just the right amount of information to make my point clear.

2 comments:

Loren Christie said...

Hi Jim,
I go off on tangents, particularly when I'm recounting a true story. I can see this habit more clearly written down rather than while speaking.

Jim Harrington said...

Ha. I'm just the opposite. I speak in sentences and write in paragraphs -- figuratively speaking, that is. :)