Monday, February 25, 2013

Editing sprints!

I'd like to introduce you to the model of the editing sprints that I'm going to do on occasion for the future until I come up with new ones. You should absolutely do these on  your own -- they're what I do and I think it works really well. I don't entirely suggest editing your whole novel in sprints, but I do suggest you use this method, ignoring the time constraints.

Times listed are suggested but obviously not mandatory.

1. PREPARE: Select your scene; I suggest choosing something of the 2000-3000 words variety, depending on how fast of a speaker/reader you are. Print it out or get your mouse on highlight, because we are going to mark things.

2. TALK IT UP: (15 Minutes) Read your scene aloud. When you are reading, your brain will try to autocorrect what you are reading to a more comfortable grammar. Notice where you slow down to read or where you say something different from what you wrote. Mark, but do not change, the places where you had difficulty. When you are writing, often your attempts to construct grand-sounding and magnificent sentences will end up actually being kind of hard to say, even though they seem fine at the time you created them.

3. GO PSYCHO: (30 minutes) Slash your scene. Take 20% off your word count. Well, first ensure that you are working on a copy. But cut a fifth of your words. Cut redundant sentences and extra adjectives. Clarify your work, and make it smaller, but maintain the same story and information as before. Don't say that's impossible. Choooooppppp!

4. WHICH HUNT: (20 minutes) Now that you've randomly hacked and slashed your way through your scene, it's time for the Which Hunt! Find the whiches the thats and the other adjuncts that keep your sentences long and wandering. We're all guilty of these, me especially. But if you can just burn your whiches, you can have a much cleaner, more evocative narrative.

After that it's rinse and repeat for the whole novel, then return and go over the whole thing for style and flow. Since I'm afraid of deleting anything, I just make copies and put version numbers on them :P

I look forward to running more of these sprints with you guys, and I hope you do some of your own!

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