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The Editing Games, part 1

Editing. Does it ever end? Maybe if we have an apocalypse—where we writers would be too busy scrambling to save our skins or ambling down The Road trying to hide from lawless survivors. Or, would we take time out from the metaphorical red pen if compelled to compete with Katniss in The Hunger Games?

Nah. Being writers who want to get our work published, we’d probably just turn the arena into a battlefield of dangling modifiers, unnecessary adverbs, overwrought adjectives, and just plain old unnecessary words aka “fat.” Yes, in editing mode, we writers are fat trimmers.

After what seems like eons of editing my memoir, I still can’t believe how much fat there is. I guess it’s better than having writer’s block (a concept I don’t believe in anyway) or not having enough material to write about. Fortunately, for me, my crazy family provides me with plenty of entertaining material.

I’m almost there—almost done but the closer I get to that place, the antsier I become. Kind of like spring fever as a kid nearing the last day of school.

To help me stay sane in the editing arena, I’ve developed my own games. The Editing Games.

Game # 1:  The Word Count Game

One major goal was to trim my manuscript from 110,000 words to about 85,000. To help me feel as if I was making progress, I tracked my word count. Here’s an example:

Saturday, May 28th:
10:15 am started with 88,750 words
10:54  88,513
11:28  88,440
12:06  88,405
break for workout, lunch. beach/swimming, etc
5:35pm  88,097
7:00 pm end day with 85,232

After a few chapters, I’d take a quick break to check my word count and log it. I don’t normally do this but on this day, I needed a little incentive to keep me going. I needed to feel as if I was accomplishing something so I turned it into a game.

Game # 2: The Question Game

As I trim fat and word count, I take sections of my manuscript–anything from a scene to a paragraph to a single sentence–and ask these three main questions:

  1. Does this further my story?
  2. Is it absolutely necessary?
  3. Would the book fail without this information?

I know one of my issues as a writer is I can write too much around a subject—too much setting, too much dialogue, too much description, too much information. I don’t worry about this when I’m doing the writing but during editing I have to force myself to really look at each line and ask the above questions.

In my next post, I’ll continue with The Editing Games, part II.

Do you have any favorite editing games you play with yourself? Please share in the comments below.

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. phoenixritu #

    In the middle of third edit of novel … sigh! First I edit the manuscript until I am sick of it, then the publisher’s edit team sits down and makes me edit it further. By the end of the entire thing, I dont want to meet the characters ever. The beauty is that when the book is finally printed and in the market, I buy a copy and then simply drool over it. Each word, each comma, semi colon is so beautifully placed, I fall in love with it again

    June 6, 2012
  2. What a lovely testament to the power of editing and polishing! Thanks for sharing.

    June 6, 2012

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  1. The Editing Games, part 2 | onewildword

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