Welcome back! Today we want to look at a few things we can think about when editing our work. In my opinion, writers should never try to complete a perfect work on the first draft. Drafts are designed for getting thoughts down on paper. In our first (and even second or third) drafts, we need to get a general plot down on paper and have strong characters forming. As we edit, we need to clean up the details and focus on adding or deleting information as needed.
Sounds easy, right? Wrong! Editing can be quite challenging. How do you know what needs to be added or deleted? Here are a few tips:
What does the reader need to know that we might not have included? In our minds, we may know that the main character has a fear of heights. If we don’t tell the reader, however, a scene may not make sense when a character faces a challenge and backs down because it involves a tall ladder or a steep climb. Make sure you give readers enough information.
Does the order of the writing make sense? Can readers follow your timeline? It is fine to jump back and forth in time as long as the readers can follow your changes.
Have you used strong descriptive language? Have you used enough action verbs? What can you do to make your words come alive for the readers?
Can you take out bits of information that are unnecessary to the work? Do you have too much conversation or too many details in a scene? Don’t add words just to lengthen your story or poem. All words must strengthen the writing or be removed.
When you are editing, get readers to help you. Ask someone to read part of your work and give you feedback. Have someone read the work aloud to you so you can see how it sounds and flows.
Complete at least one challenge:
Write 350-450 words (poem or short story) about a Christmas card that was mailed but never received. When you are done, edit the piece so that it is only 300 words long.
Write a short story or poem from the point of view of a fish in a bowl on a desk. When you are done, edit the piece as needed.
Find an online article that you can cut and paste into a Word document. Edit the piece, making it half of the original length. Tell why you chose to cut what you took out.