Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Editing = Style

A quick word about editing:

All writers are wordy in drafts.  You edit.  You slice.  You nip and tuck.  Sometimes you bludgeon and take out whole paragraphs.  But I've come across some writers lately who forgot, maybe, why you do this.

1.  Well, because you have to omit needless words.  Period.  Wordiness creates passivity; it turns off readers--and agents.  It's the first sign of a bad writer--and it's the easiest thing to fix and control.

2.  But writers sometimes forget that wordiness needs editing because it is in the editing that writers create their style.  Editing writing is like editing film; that's where the style is.  Without it--if you have too many words--you don't just have an avalanche of unnecessary words, you also lack the style your narration needs to tell the story.

3.  Finally, unless you're Shakespeare writing the Nurse's lines--unless your character or narrator is necessarily wordy--you should not be writing too many words.  This is especially true for dialogue.  Most real people do not speak too much.  When they do, they're treated just like the writings such unrealistic characters will inhabit: they're ignored.  Just as in narration, the first sign of a bad writer is bad dialogue--which is created by stilted or overwordy speakers.

So don't forget to edit.  And don't forget that you're not just editing to get rid of unnecessary words. 

1 comment:

  1. I find that it's always good to get another pair of eyes on your writing. We writers are often blind to our own wordiness. It's good to take a critical look at your own writing, but it's better to have someone who is not as close to it.