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Revision: Knowing what to cut

Cheryl's Musings: Revision: Knowing what to cut

Cheryl's Musings

How to Thrive on the Writer's Road


Revision: Knowing what to cut

I'm one of those writers who tends to overwrite in the first draft and cut, cut, cut in later versions. For the next few posts, I'll take a look at things I look for in--and cut from--my manuscript during rewrites. First up to bat? The dreaded adverb...

Adverbs: Although the occasional adverb can spice up a paragraph quite nicely (grin,) my writing can do without most of them. Whenever I find an adverb, I ask myself two questions. First, does it tell the reader anything new? For ex:

"Screw you!" she said angrily.

Does "angrily" add to the scene? I think not. The words and exclamation point speak for themselves! If I wanted, I could use a stronger verb to make my point:

"Screw you," she hissed/grated/yelled/laughed.

If I decide that the adverb DOES give the reader new information, my next question is whether I can convey that information by choosing a stronger verb. For ex:

She sat on the sofa wearily.

This gets the point across--but I can make the same point by using a stronger verb:

She collapsed/sprawled/slumped on the sofa.

Each verb brings its own nuances of tone and meaning to the paragraph, painting a slightly different picture.

Rewriting gets easier--and better--with practice, just like most aspects of writing. I like that. Of course, it means that I've just added one of my books back onto my rewrite list. When I took another look at it, I realized that I've learned a bit more about chopping since its last revision! Oh, well....

:) Cheryl



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