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Thread: addition and substraction

  1. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Terry D View Post
    I don't think the question is a binary one. Most serious writers edit through addition and subtraction, it all comes down to what a particular sentence, paragraph, scene, chapter, or whatever needs to be at its best. I've turned a short story into a novel, and I've reduced a 2,000 word short into a 650 word flash piece.

    The reason behind the advice to be aggressive with cuts is because new writers try to do too much and end up writing inefficiently. You can find it here all the time in stories posted for critique, the writer tries to sound 'writerly' and goes to great lengths (literally) to describe and explain. They haven't yet learned that a few perfectly chosen words are far more powerful than heaps of hastily chosen ones. Cliche's abound and every dialogue tag is embellished with an adverb. There is power in brevity, strength in concision.

    Stephen King's magnum opus, The Stand, was only published after 400 pages of cuts. That's about 100,000 words.
    I have a serious problem with advising someone new to make cuts without reading the material for two reasons :

    1) Someone new to the forum is not necessarily a new writer, especially when compared to yourself.

    2) Not all new writers have the rambling problem!

    It's a dangerous piece of advice to give without seeing the work. It's like a doctor advising lowering fat intake to someone who is already dieting, just because most new patients eat a high fat diet. Such a doctor can lose his license. He needs to actually do an examination and get a little history. Same with writing and advising cuts without first reading a piece. The author may not have "darlings" or "cows".

    As for King, so what? It proves nothing.

  2. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by bdcharles View Post
    I think it probably depends where you are in your MS. I tend to overwrite, because I want to include absolutely everything, so I do end up having to slaughter darlings (or as I prefer to think of it, saving them for later) more than spawning new ones. But my first MS is finished and it came in at 168,000 words, so I had to cut it to get it within wordcount guidelines. But sometimes I need to add something too, particularly to an unfinished MS, to patch a plot hole or add in some conflict in a dead scene, or just because it is still in progress.

    I can understand the comment about Frankenstein, but to me that's where alot of the skill comes in, in smoothing over the joins, not just bolting on new text in a big cut and paste but really being a craftsman about it and marrying up those edges. It's in the details. I'll end up re-reading a good amount of text before the join and after, to make sure it fits. Sometimes though, you can see those joins in professional, published work too.



    Lol I suspect most of us were alseep in bed.
    I agree that being able to make either cuts or additions work is a very important skill for an author to have! Maybe there should be a challenge where one has to do that.

    As for being asleep at the time I posted, that's no excuse. When I have insomnia, everyone else is supposed to also be unable to sleep.

  3. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Jack of all trades View Post
    I have a serious problem with advising someone new to make cuts without reading the material for two reasons :

    1) Someone new to the forum is not necessarily a new writer, especially when compared to yourself.

    2) Not all new writers have the rambling problem!
    Your problems are yours, not mine. Where did I advise anyone to make cuts? I simply said, effective revision usually contains a combination of expansion and contraction. That is true. What "material" are you talking about? We aren't discussing a specific story here, so all the answers to your question in the OP are bound to be generalities. In general, most writing will benefit from constructive reduction. If you write tight, fat-free prose in your first draft, congratulations, most people do not. I'don't know, I've never seen anything you've written.

    My comments weren't about experienced writers new to the forum were they? I said, "new writers". Although, I've seen plenty of folks who claim to have been writing for many years make the same errors. I also never said anything about 'rambling', some writers do 'rambling' very well. I was talking about flabby, inefficient, or overblown writing.


    It's a dangerous piece of advice to give without seeing the work. It's like a doctor advising lowering fat intake to someone who is already dieting, just because most new patients eat a high fat diet. Such a doctor can lose his license. He needs to actually do an examination and get a little history. Same with writing and advising cuts without first reading a piece. The author may not have "darlings" or "cows".
    Again, you asked a general question and received general comments. If you want specific examples of where your work can benefit from cuts, post something. Until then it's probably not a good idea to argue with advice that's proven itself helpful to the vast majority of writers.

    As for King, so what? It proves nothing.
    I wasn't aware I was trying to prove anything. I simply gave an example of a bestselling novel which was improved -- at least in the publisher's mind -- by significant reductions.
    “Fools” said I, “You do not know
    Silence like a cancer grows
    Hear my words that I might teach you
    Take my arms that I might reach you”
    But my words like silent raindrops fell
    And echoed in the wells of silence : Simon & Garfunkel


    Those who enjoy stirring the chamber-pot should be required to lick the spoon.

    Our job as writers is to make readers dream, to infiltrate their minds with our words and create a new reality; a reality not theirs, and not ours, but a new, unique combination of both.

    Visit Amazon and the Kindle Store to check out Reflections in a Black Mirror, and Chase

    https://www.amazon.com/author/terrydurbin






  4. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Terry D View Post
    Your problems are yours, not mine. Where did I advise anyone to make cuts? I simply said, effective revision usually contains a combination of expansion and contraction. That is true. What "material" are you talking about? We aren't discussing a specific story here, so all the answers to your question in the OP are bound to be generalities. In general, most writing will benefit from constructive reduction. If you write tight, fat-free prose in your first draft, congratulations, most people do not. I'don't know, I've never seen anything you've written.

    My comments weren't about experienced writers new to the forum were they? I said, "new writers". Although, I've seen plenty of folks who claim to have been writing for many years make the same errors. I also never said anything about 'rambling', some writers do 'rambling' very well. I was talking about flabby, inefficient, or overblown writing.




    Again, you asked a general question and received general comments. If you want specific examples of where your work can benefit from cuts, post something. Until then it's probably not a good idea to argue with advice that's proven itself helpful to the vast majority of writers.



    I wasn't aware I was trying to prove anything. I simply gave an example of a bestselling novel which was improved -- at least in the publisher's mind -- by significant reductions.

    I am surprised by your attitude. Would you want someone to tell you that your writing has a particular flaw just because "the vast majority" of writing has the flaw? Or would you prefer for your work to be read before being told it's flawed?

  5. #15
    How much description is good in an opening and how do you know this? Without receiving feedback? If the conflict takes a while to get there should I leave the description for last, and make the conflict be introduced as fast as possible? It's probably a good topic for this thread, and I wanted to create a question for the forum members to answer.

    If dialogue drives the conflict and you have over ten lines of dialogue that can't be interrupted. Would a minimalist approach be best as is very little description for a short story.

    Should I cut description and be minimalist in dialogue? Start media res, that he has saved someone who has someone who he has seen was almost drowned?
    Last edited by Theglasshouse; May 14th, 2018 at 02:48 PM.
    I would follow as in believe in the words of good moral leaders. Rather than the beliefs of oneself.
    The most difficult thing for a writer to comprehend is to experience silence, so speak up. (quoted from a member)

  6. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Jack of all trades View Post
    I am surprised by your attitude. Would you want someone to tell you that your writing has a particular flaw just because "the vast majority" of writing has the flaw? Or would you prefer for your work to be read before being told it's flawed?
    I'll spell this out as simply as I can. You don't post any of your writing, so no one can give you concrete suggestions about where possible cuts, or additions could be helpful. Yet you asked for the reasoning behind those suggestions. Anyone who has studied this craft for any length of time knows that early drafts in general have excess baggage and benefit greatly from having the fat trimmed. That's not an attitude, it's a fact. Maybe you write pristine first drafts. If so, good on you, but I don't know of anyone else who does. Was your intent when you asked in the OP, "Why the emphasis on removal?" to actually get an answer?
    “Fools” said I, “You do not know
    Silence like a cancer grows
    Hear my words that I might teach you
    Take my arms that I might reach you”
    But my words like silent raindrops fell
    And echoed in the wells of silence : Simon & Garfunkel


    Those who enjoy stirring the chamber-pot should be required to lick the spoon.

    Our job as writers is to make readers dream, to infiltrate their minds with our words and create a new reality; a reality not theirs, and not ours, but a new, unique combination of both.

    Visit Amazon and the Kindle Store to check out Reflections in a Black Mirror, and Chase

    https://www.amazon.com/author/terrydurbin






  7. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Terry D View Post
    I'll spell this out as simply as I can. You don't post any of your writing, so no one can give you concrete suggestions about where possible cuts, or additions could be helpful. Yet you asked for the reasoning behind those suggestions. Anyone who has studied this craft for any length of time knows that early drafts in general have excess baggage and benefit greatly from having the fat trimmed. That's not an attitude, it's a fact. Maybe you write pristine first drafts. If so, good on you, but I don't know of anyone else who does. Was your intent when you asked in the OP, "Why the emphasis on removal?" to actually get an answer?
    I also said in the OP that I didn't want to go down this path in this thread.

    The original question was -- do you only delete, delete and add, or neither (fixing typos, I guess)?

  8. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Jack of all trades View Post
    I also said in the OP that I didn't want to go down this path in this thread.
    And yet in your second post you said,

    Those who advise cutting in the past have not posted yet. I'm not sure if they haven't noticed this thread or prefer to stay out of the conversation. Still, if only those comfortable with adding post on this subject, I fear this will be a very short and one-sided conversation. Still, it has been getting views, so I guess there's some interest.


    I'm sorry. I thought you were actually looking for discussion.
    “Fools” said I, “You do not know
    Silence like a cancer grows
    Hear my words that I might teach you
    Take my arms that I might reach you”
    But my words like silent raindrops fell
    And echoed in the wells of silence : Simon & Garfunkel


    Those who enjoy stirring the chamber-pot should be required to lick the spoon.

    Our job as writers is to make readers dream, to infiltrate their minds with our words and create a new reality; a reality not theirs, and not ours, but a new, unique combination of both.

    Visit Amazon and the Kindle Store to check out Reflections in a Black Mirror, and Chase

    https://www.amazon.com/author/terrydurbin






  9. #19
    I can tell when a writer is prone to overwriting from the first page. I used to do it myself. It's not a chronic problem and, once accepted, can be fixed . Ergo, somebody has to point it out (thank you betas)

    It's not something a writer does in one paragraph, and never repeats. If a description contains two adjectives, select the most important one and dump the other. If both are essential give the second adjective a sentence of it's own.

    Poor, or inappropriate word selection is usually revealed in the first paragraph, principally because the writer can't resist flaunting his/her vocabulary. Sometimes it's laziness, or the lack of intuition to select correctly,..not so easy to fix but easy to spot and hard to endure.

    Just saying,
    qwerty

  10. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by qwertyman View Post
    I can tell when a writer is prone to overwriting from the first page. I used to do it myself. It's not a chronic problem and, once accepted, can be fixed . Ergo, somebody has to point it out (thank you betas)

    It's not something a writer does in one paragraph, and never repeats. If a description contains two adjectives, select the most important one and dump the other. If both are essential give the second adjective a sentence of it's own.

    Poor, or inappropriate word selection is usually revealed in the first paragraph, principally because the writer can't resist flaunting his/her vocabulary. Sometimes it's laziness, or the lack of intuition to select correctly,..not so easy to fix but easy to spot and hard to endure.

    Just saying,
    qwerty
    Ah, yes! But the betas actually read your work before telling you there was the problem! That's all well and good.

    I have a concern about new members here being told they have problems when no work has been posted.

    This is not about my work. It is entirely about new, potentially talented members being given bad advice, based solely on the odds.

    Obviously my opinions are in the minority here. It's probably time I just move along. I'm sure there'll be a celebration.

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