Cutting is one of the hardest things to do in regards to writing. Think of all the hours you spent typing away at your keyboard, and now you need to just delete some of it. I know it sounds stupid, but this could be the metaphorical difference between life and death for your manuscript. You cannot tell me that every single word is needed. I guarantee, at the bare minimum, that you have added in a typo or two of the exact same word somewhere in your rough draft. Cutting isn’t actually about fixing those problems. Cutting focuses on more important issues rather than the minor typos.
Most people stop reading a book if it seems like nothing is happening. Pretty much, if you bore the reader too long, you lose them. Cutting is how we fix this. A rough draft might describe the day-to-day activities of a traveler on the road, but if that stuff has little to no impact on the overall story, why keep it in? If the reader can go from one exciting, bit to the next without having to reader fifty pages of walking on a road, they will be much more invested in your story. Here are some areas to look for when you are in the cutting stage of the revision process:
- Needless information- Like I said, don’t bore the reader.
- Large sections of internal thoughts- This translates to the character sitting down doing nothing besides thinking. Try to work the important stuff from these parts into some other activity, (Exercise, playing a game, etc) and show how their preoccupied thoughts affects them in the real world.
- Expostition- Don’t spend an entire chapter explaining the intricate history of your world before you’ve even started the story. Why would a reader care about all of this info, if they are not even sure that they are going to finish your book to begin with?
- Description- Large amounts of description has the problem of slowing the pace of your story. It might create a more vibrant scene, but too much description can make the reader lost. Try to focus on one or two distinctive elements and make their descriptions stand-out. (Ice-blue eyes does not cut it since it is too common, but electric-blue eyes might.) No one wants to read an entire page describing a character that wont even be in the story next chapter.
- Dialogue- Try to make your dialogue sound natural. If you find a character speaking about a lot of information that they wouldn’t normally even think about, then that is a section you might want to consider cutting.
Cutting was one of the hardest concepts for me to grasp in regards to revision. I also believe that it served as a massive boast to the overall quality of my work. I hope that everyone is having a great day and good luck with your writing.