Monday, April 22, 2013



Cutting a book or a screenplay is relatively easy—especially with a computer. You just highlight what you want to cut and hit DELETE. Alternatively, you use STRIKETHOUGH or just highlight the cuts (so that you can change your mind). I generally use DELETE because I don’t cut without a great deal of thought—and then I think you must move on.

It is rare that cutting does not have consequences—which tend to require re-writing (frequently extensive unless you are lucky). This is hard work because you have to think through the logic of the story, keep it in your mind, and compensate for any differences. I used to hate this kind of work but now I love it—partly because it is so demanding.

It can feel terrible to cut your own words—words that were hard won and represented the best you could do at the time—but one of my great discoveries has been that, these days,  my re-writing tends to be better.

That is not always the case. It’s all to easy to overwrite—but the best solution to that is to keep up momentum so that you don’t obsess over a single paragraph or page. You move on even if only to meet your daily word count. In my case, I have set that at 2,000 words a day when doing original writing. I don’t have a fixed standard when it comes to editing and re-writing. What I can say is that it tends to take longer than one would think, and to be very intense. But it is also enjoyable because of the challenge.

I’m just in the process of making the transition from cutting to re-writing.

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