Make it tight

The title isn't my take on jeans, but rather on the editing process. At the moment I'm working my way through my second book - of which the title is taken from this blog, though I usually refer to it as TROG - I'm altering the tense, but I'm also making the MS tighter.

Quite often during the writing process, it's easy to use excess words - possibly to pad it out, possibly because it's natural to elaborate when you're flowing along. However, when editing, it's worth bearing in mind the context; the context allows you to make the MS tighter, and ultimately makes the MS a better read. For example:

'Blah blah blah,' he smiles at me.

If you've established that there are only two characters in a room having this conversation, drop the "at me" - after all, who else could he be smiling at? The door?!

'Etc etc etc,' I suggest as a plan begins to formulate in my mind.

Where else would this plan form?! In this case, cutting "in my mind" would tighten the MS and improve the readability. Of course, there is the need to set the scene, but not if it pointlessly over-explains. If this was a sci-fi piece (it isn't), it could have been necessary to explain the plan was formulating in the mind ... if other alien characters have been revealed to think in their feet, that is!

If you really don't want to "kill your darlings" but need to get your word-count reduced, consider your sentence structure! Right, it's back to editing with my red pen ... or should that just be "back to editing"?!


  1. You know I was thinking about editing and how hard that is for me at times. I either love my words or miss my mistakes. It's good to be able to read these kind of posts.

  2. I'm currently editing through my "half" novel (with the view that once I've done that, I'll be in a better position to carry on & conclude it properly) so this entry is actually pretty useful for me to read!

    It would be great if you wrote more entries like this, actually! You could start up your own master class. :p

  3. Ooh, I'm very glad I've had a positive response (so far) to a post like this - I wasn't so sure about it! I will definitely do more posts like this, though I'm not so sure about them being "master class" standard!

    Hope the editing and writing is going well, Astharis and Liza! {^_^}

  4. Hello to the new Elle site!

    I scrapped last year's National Novel Writing Month manuscript when the editing process showed me that the whole thing was going off into nowhere-land. I'm excited to follow as you move through yours - surely MUCH better than mine!

  5. I see you posted this one a few days ago now so how is the editing process going since??? :)

  6. Glad to see you over here Rebekah! I hope you're still working on your fiction! :0)

    I've got sidetracked Paula with the Sydney stuff, being ill, and working on my Manchester Fiction prize entry ... :s but I'll be getting back on it and editing away merrily once I'm better and have submitted my Manchester entry! :0)

  7. Hi =)
    Just stopping by after a long hiatus from blogger, but I used to be a loyal reader of yours. Glad to see you are still writing lots =)
    Take care x0x0