My Novel Needs a Buzz Cut! aka Editing Madness #2

May 9, 2014

editing madnessHaving finished my novel, I now willfully enter the EDIT and REWRITE phase.

Of course, I’ve been editing all along (see Surviving Editing Madness #1) and to call this my ‘first’ draft is inaccurate…it’s more like my fortieth.

BUT it is the first draft that has a BEGINNING, MIDDLE and completed ENDING. Thus, I shall call it: MY FIRST FULL DRAFT.

It now requires some mega-chopping because it is way over limit at 100 000 words ‘plus’.

I have to chop about 30 000 words.

Yep, my novel needs a make over. I’m thinking…buzz cut!

But not all at once. Rather than radically dissect my work, I’m starting with the gradual cuts, sloughing off the usual fluff that deserves to die.

I’m following these sites as a guideline to start:

Writing 101: Revising A Novel   and   Tighten Up Your Manuscript

I got rid of the excess words like very, etc. Now I am going through my novel from start to finish, word by word, reworking sentences and, as much as I don’t like it…losing most of the ADVERBS. (See ‘Relax, It’s Just an Adverb‘ for my thoughts on the much maligned adverb).

I’ve also been trimming the fat off dialogue. This has made a significant difference to its quality but I’ll admit it has been hard to kill those hard won words.

I can’t tell you how many times I struggled to find the perfect action to accompany dialogue!

  • She sighed; he shrugged.
  • She shook her head; he lifted an eyebrow.
  • He grinned; she stared at him.

On and on I contorted them, like marionettes. But getting rid of these has increased the punch and zip in the conversation. It flows faster. The dialogue is smokin’!

Speaking of smoking (as in smoking guns) *ok, awkward segue-way* Let’s talk about…CHEKHOV’S GUN.

To quote Wikipedia, this is:

A dramatic principle that requires every element in a narrative to be necessary and irreplaceable, and that everything else be removed.

Or, to put it in the words of the man who said it:

Remove everything that has no relevance to the story. If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it’s not going to be fired, it shouldn’t be hanging there.– Russian author Anton Chekhov.

Alas, I have a couple of scenes that don’t fire. They aren’t wholly necessary. But they are dear to me. It feels like a slasher movie.

Me: No, not the ghost story scene! No! Stop!

Mad writer wielding an axe: CHOP! *maniacal laugh*

And through this process, I hope to complete phase one in my novel’s beauty make-over.

Wish me luck!


  1. Best book I ever read was Strunk and White’s “Elements of Style.” Chopped tons of verbiage from my stories 🙂


    • Thanks for the tip, I will look it up!


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