Flash Fiction:
a complete story in one thousand words
or fewer.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Why I Cut

I was emailing my brother the other day, and I asked if he'd like me to take a crack at editing his manuscript.

He said, "Sure. Why not? You should really charge an editor's fee, though. ;)"

My response?

Well, my ulterior motive is the writing of a book dedicated to cutting. There isn't one out there, and it's a skill people desperately need to hone.

("Well, I intend to write a book on cutting. There's no book yet dedicated to this critical skill."

27 words to 18: a 33% cut.


  • Eliminate overuse of "to be" (though note that "to be" isn't all bad, and I've left one instance in in the contraction "There's"

  • Change from a passive noun ("my ulterior motive") to an active verb ("I intend")

  • Sloppy use of pronouns that don't refer properly ("one") and restructuring to make the noun to which the pronoun would refer the subject of a different clause ("There's no book")...

You get what I mean. :) )

It was a silly, off-the-cuff example, but hopefully you really do get what I mean. Cutting is an art, in that you have to know when cutting something will change the tone of what you're saying: "There's little doubt that", "No doubt", and "Indubitably" aren't interchangeable. But there's method to it also, and if you can see the method you'll be much better off in everything you write.

Of course, I don't cut these little posts as much as I should, because I'd never post them if I did; I'm not going for publication quality here. However, just being aware of what it takes to cut something properly helps me not write as many words in the first place.


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