Wednesday, January 13, 2010

7 things I've learned so far

Jim Whiting sent along this essay by Jody M. Roy. It's full of wisdom about the writing and editing process.

I particularly liked these bits:

2. Editorial notes are both an immediate to-do list and a long-term lesson plan. I first transform editorial notes into a very specific checklist for my work in the coming hours or, as the case may be, weeks. Then I dive into the work, one tiny to-do at a time, until every single item has been completed. If I stop there, I make my editor happy. However, if I take the process one step farther, I grow as a writer. Once I’ve completed a round of revisions, I cull any editing notes that are not completely unique to the work at hand and rewrite them into guidelines that will inform my future projects. Over time, I internalize the lessons and develop new skills.

4. If a cut doesn’t hurt, it’s not deep enough. I wish this weren’t true, but it is. A piece is always stronger after a good pruning. If an argument, character, scene, or individual word isn’t necessary, if it doesn’t contribute in some way to the overall purpose of the piece, it needs to go. In revising Autobiography of a Recovering Skinhead: The Frank Meeink Story, 180 pages were sliced (yes, you read that right: pages, not words!) from the original draft. It about killed me, but those cuts streamlined the narrative, focused the characters, and, ultimately, made the book accessible to a wider audience.
Read the rest.

No comments: