Tags:
  1. NK_UT

    NK_UT Member

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2019
    Messages:
    21
    Likes Received:
    13
    Location:
    Salt Lake City

    Choosing what to edit out?

    Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by NK_UT, Dec 13, 2019.

    Hello all! I'm Nick. This is my first post here (aside from an entry into the first three sentences thread stickied up top). I've been hesitant to join a writing forum, as I am not particularly confident in my writing at this point.

    I'm working on my third novel. Never finished any of the others. This one is taking me places, though. When not writing, I find myself constantly back in the world I'm creating. I can't stop myself from wanting to know what happens to FN-528 as he discovers what hides in plain sight in the world he has grown so familiar with. My mind constantly wanders back into the city he occupies. Each time it does, I discover new things about it through his perspective, and I get drawn in further.

    As it stands, I am at about 410 pages, just under 120,000 words. I figure that, by the time I'm finished telling this particular story within this setting, it will be around 150,000-200,000 words. By my reckoning, this is too long for a near-future dystopian novel. I feel like everything that's there needs to be there, but I also know that I can't write an excessively long novel.

    Any thoughts?

    Thank you!
     
    Lifeline likes this.
  2. Dogberry's Watch

    Dogberry's Watch Member

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2019
    Messages:
    247
    Likes Received:
    436
    Location:
    United States
    Well, you can write an excessively long novel. Many people do. Part of what editing is for me, however, is trying to determine if a scene does something for the story or if it's fluffy and can be taken aside.

    I know that sounds like the most unhelpful thing, but aside from that, my other advice is to get a second, third, fourth, etc. opinion on it, and outside perspective will definitely help you see parts that may not be necessary. "Murder your darlings," Faulkner said, quoting someone else. But not all of them have to go. In the very end, if you go the traditional route, it'll be between you and your editor.
     
    Cave Troll and Richach like this.
  3. More

    More Member

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2019
    Messages:
    36
    Likes Received:
    23
    Hello Nick
    I'm just a beginner and can't give anybody any good advice on how to write well . What I can tell you is my own , as yet unproven, approach . It looks to me as if you believe , or would like, to write the finished book in one go . Because you can't , you agonise over it and stop. I would suggest you stop doing that and keep going with the book , make changes , even if you know that they don't fit in . Kill of character, change their sex . I Don't worry , get to the end . When you do, start the rewrite.
     
  4. Richach

    Richach Senior Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2019
    Messages:
    252
    Likes Received:
    230
    Location:
    Birmingham Uk
    I think it is really important to make sure your story has a beginning, middle and an end. Then you can call this the first draft.

    I think you need to be really careful when editing as if you are not entirely sure what to edit or what type of edit is required, then it could all easily turn sideways and we don't want that to happen.

    I would recommend that you use 'Track Changes' in a Microsoft word document or equivalent for other software. This will allow you to see clearly what changes you have made instead of just pressing delete!

    The things that people, readers, critics will pick up on are things like:
    • Consistent P.O.V (Point of view)
    • Show vs Tell
    • Dialogue
    • Spelling - Punctuation and Grammar (SPAG)
    In regards to SPAG, it is the most tempting to edit first or even worse whilst you are writing the draft! This is something you should do last. If your story is not properly constructed, there is no point having fantastic SPAG!

    It is also a good idea to keep your M.S in a separate chapters and also as one complete story with proper titles denoting each chapter.

    Make several copies of the chapter and complete story so that if you make a mess of things you can go back to earlier copies.

    Don't edit anything until you have completed your first draft.
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2019
  5. Nesian

    Nesian Member

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2017
    Messages:
    77
    Likes Received:
    76
    I don't recall where I read this advice but when editing your own novel you have to take out what doesn't move the plot forward. Take for instance you've added in a memory for a character's development but the memory has nothing at all do with with moving the plot forward and will not be referred to again then you could probably lose that part, or you've over described a scene. Sometimes you just need two descriptions of a room e.g. the overall decor and ambience. The reader can typically fill in the rest with their imagination.
     
    Richach likes this.
  6. NK_UT

    NK_UT Member

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2019
    Messages:
    21
    Likes Received:
    13
    Location:
    Salt Lake City
    Thanks all for the advice. I have been struggling with indecision over whether I should consolidate the content that I already have into something more concise and make sure all the details are aligned or just finish it and take care of that in a second draft. It seems that I have my answer, now.

    I do tend towards being wordy in my writing. That's something I have always struggled with.

    I appreciate the feedback! You guys are awesome!
     
    jannert and Richach like this.
  7. NK_UT

    NK_UT Member

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2019
    Messages:
    21
    Likes Received:
    13
    Location:
    Salt Lake City
    I'm curious why this was moved from general writing to a critique board. I have not presented any content for critique. I was, however, asking for input on a general writing issue that I had.
     
  8. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2016
    Messages:
    13,609
    Likes Received:
    15,800
    Location:
    East devon/somerset border
    because this is the board in which we deal with all matters to do with editing - since you are asking for input on an editing issue this is where it belongs.

    by the by content for critique would not go in here - that goes in the workshop when minimum requirements are met

    General writing is a catch all forum for those topic that do not fit anywhereelse - and threads started in it are often moved to other boards where they fit
     
    hedgerowpete likes this.
  9. NK_UT

    NK_UT Member

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2019
    Messages:
    21
    Likes Received:
    13
    Location:
    Salt Lake City
    I see.
     
  10. Steve Rivers

    Steve Rivers Member

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2019
    Messages:
    121
    Likes Received:
    210
    Location:
    Somewhere deep in the heart of the UK
    I find that choosing what to edit out is all about not trying to think of what -you- would like to edit, but what your -reader- will want, with a specific focus on trimming and re-ordering to give things better flow.

    I've got a good example I did recently, if it helps...

    Compared to

    When writing in the heat of the moment, my subconscious mind was far, far too eager to introduce the virtual intelligence as a character at the moment I first wrote its name. Dovi is all but a silent observer in this scene until the very end, and whilst needed mentioning to let the reader know he was there, didn't need an all-out character explanation. Let alone a further description of the differences between virtual and artificial intelligence.
    It also completely, and utterly, destroyed the flow of Milan's snarky, condescending retort; which is far, far more important - both to the conversation, and to inform the reader of the character's personality. So, after removing unnecessary descriptions, tangents, and moving the dialogue to where it should be, viola! I think it reads much better, I hope you agree.
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2019
    Xoic, NK_UT and Cave Troll like this.
  11. hedgerowpete

    hedgerowpete Member

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2019
    Messages:
    28
    Likes Received:
    23
    Location:
    west midlands, UK
    I really struggle with editing as I am blind to what the editor sees and reads.

    Apparently I am not the worlds gift to writers?
    I write because i like to, I dont write to earn money. I find I do write tons of rubbish though. the up side is I can easily go 50k words, the downside is I hire and pay for a fantastic editor that returns the required half and the other half in tatters.

    The best way i can describe my editor is ,
    Remember the schooll teacher that was never satisfied with your work, the one that only gave out B's and not A's, the one with the rim glasses pearing down at you in disgust all day. Now think of her as charging you to look at you sullenly at your work and your getting close!
     
  12. N.Scott

    N.Scott Member

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2019
    Messages:
    45
    Likes Received:
    19
    To me, a story is like perfume for our hearts, and the main ingredient is emotion, so everything that has an emotional impact are the things I'd keep.

    As for what to edit out, a few points I have learned are:
    a. cut out the words that are not necessary, train station->station
    b. avoid descriptions overflow, keep the main focus on details that convey mood/character
    c. see if you can combine some characters or scenes that have too little purpose

    of course, each of these points has exceptions, but I think it's a good thing to keep them in mind as a general guild during the revising.
     
  13. Richach

    Richach Senior Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2019
    Messages:
    252
    Likes Received:
    230
    Location:
    Birmingham Uk
    Just going through multiple stages of editing. The latest plan is to list the chapters on the vertical line and the heading of what I am editing on the horizontal. This should ensure that I am addressing each facet in a structured and measured way. I have found just going through the M.S and editing randomly leaves me feeling anxious that I am cannibalising the whole project. I think a structured approach is best.

    For anyone that is interested I am using a blank A3 sheet (Portrait) and it looks a little like this:

    Horizontal Axis
    • Requirements for chapter
    • % Finished
    • Strength & relevance
    • Plot loops -Set -Unfinished -Closed
    • Point of View
    Vertical axis

    • Chapter 1
    • Chapter 2
    • Chapter 3
    • Etc

    The room for making notes is intentionally small so that only relevant comments can be made.

    It is not the best thing in the world but it is working for me. Most importantly it shows me the changes I am making and the effect of the M.S in a global sense. For example it would prevent me from making changes that gave inconsistant p.o.v.

    Any suggestions welcome. :)
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2019
  14. NK_UT

    NK_UT Member

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2019
    Messages:
    21
    Likes Received:
    13
    Location:
    Salt Lake City
    I thought I had written a reply to this, already. Apparently I have not. I will get back to write a proper reply soon. I just wanted to pop in and say thanks for the responses and apologize for not doing so earlier.
     
  15. Kallisto

    Kallisto Ruler of the world... somewhere... Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2015
    Messages:
    515
    Likes Received:
    437
    What helped me with my writing is deciding on an actual theme; singular idea that I really wanted the reader to get out of it. Once I figured that out, the character's motives and goals were weaved into that theme. I had already written the draft. So I had a basic outline, but this was going further and figuring out what kinds of things I could talk about with this character and theme.

    I broke down each scene and each set of dialogue, I asked myself, "How does this scene work for my theme?"

    What I found is that because I had this one focused theme, I was really able to condense the story as a whole. Many of the scenes that in earlier drafts I was thinking "No way can I cut this" ended up not being that important once I had a theme. Some characters were completely eliminated because once a theme was selected, they were just became redundant. Dialogue was cut back. Since there was one specific theme in the story, it was no longer needed to have clumps of dialogue to try and build up which of the 200 meandering themes we were dealing with.

    Most importantly, it was much easier for my readers. This doesn't mean it was dumber. Only that they weren't confused as to what I was trying to say.

    Overall I'm much more satisfied with how the story turned out. Yes, some of those scenes I cut were beloved, but I just put them aside to use in another story somewhere.
     
    Xoic and jannert like this.
  16. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    14,855
    Likes Received:
    16,490
    Location:
    Scotland
    I think people who 'tend towards being wordy' are actually in a good place, when it comes to writing. If your writing is wordy and can do with being cut back during the editing stage, don't worry. You've given yourself rich material to work with.

    I'm a verbose writer myself, so I would say that! But I think it's true, actually. Overwriting can be easily cut backā€”and does need to be cut back. Underwriting, however, means you have to go through and attempt to add flesh to bones. That can be more difficult. If you didn't 'see' these details as you wrote the thing, you might well not see them now.
     
    Seven Crowns likes this.
  17. lonelystar

    lonelystar Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2018
    Messages:
    105
    Likes Received:
    54
    As you will have noticed everyone has their own editing techniques and over time you'll work out what works for you (and your story.)

    I edit as I go along but keep saving my story with a different name - usually a different letter at the end - mystoryA, mystoryB etc.

    Remember you can do as many edits on a scene as you need, whether that is two or fifty. You decide to concentrate on dialogue separately to description or everything at once.

    If I'm not sure about deleting something I change it into bold text, so I can look at it in the future.

    Create an story plan which you can refer to as you edit, it will make it more obvious what fits where and in what order. Some people have very detailed plans but others it is just a one or two page brief outline.

    One thing I have found useful is to use a text to speech app, it helps you become the reader not the frustrated with this story writer.

    There are lots of websites on writing techniques which include information about editing.

    If when reading the chapter you completely ignored paragraph D what has been the effect in the rest of the chapter? If by ignoring this paragraph it has not effected the rest of the chapter then the paragraph probably should go.

    Look on the workshop - there are often multiple drafts if the same thing, it may help you to see how it has changed. Would you have done it that way?

    Don't be shy here, ask and contribute. We are all here to help each other.
     
  18. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2019
    Messages:
    1,014
    Likes Received:
    1,045
    Location:
    The White Rose county, UK
    When Stephen Donaldson wrote The Illearth War, he cut out 50,000 words from the final draft because he realised it had been written from a different point of view to that of the two main characters. He later published this material as a novella.

    Go through your work and see if there are any anomalous parts to it that don't fit with the rest of the story, and make these your first target.
     

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice