Reducing the Flab by DiAnn Mills

Ever read something you wrote one year ago, six months ago, or yesterday and cringe at the writing? Everything from word choice, descriptions, characters, plotting, and setting screamed back at you. I bet you even checked to make sure you actually wrote the piece. That was because we are always changing, growing, and learning the craft. Our job as writers is not limited to merely creating a manuscript, but we have a responsibility to the edits and revisions. We have a responsibility to the publisher to offer our very best, which means we cut the flab and reduce our writing using clarity and preciseness as our weights.

The edits and revisions of our manuscript are the diet and exercise of molding our work into a sculptured piece, one that we are proud to submit. Sol Stein says: Unwillingness to revise usually signals an amateur.

Revision is an exciting challenge – an adventure to make our writing more powerful. Look forward to it, because revision and editing provide an opportunity to make your creation better and eventually the best.

How much better for the writer to catch the poor grammar, manuscript construction, plot failures, and inconsistencies than an editor who tosses our work back at us. It’s a humbling process!

I highly recommend Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Browne and King. This book teaches clarity and conciseness in an easy and understandable manner. The Writer’s Little Helper by James V. Smith Jr. and Edits and Revisions by James Scott Bell are excellent.

Rule number one is don’t revise while you write. Finish a scene, a chapter, or even the entire story before reverting to editor mode. Creating a story uses the left side of your brain. Revision uses the right side. While writing the first draft, no matter how clean, the writer is learning about the story and its characters.

Take the time to make your manuscript the best. Work slowly, line by line, and you won’t be disappointed.