Over the last few weeks I’ve read a few articles and noticed multiple angst ridden tweets regarding poorly edited writing. Back in January I even wrote a diatribe about a book that, at its core, had a pretty good story, but was an editing disaster. As a writer I am attached to the words I write. I also make a lot of mistakes. There are times when every word I’ve written seems essential. Cutting an entire scene or even a couple of words sometimes feels akin to severing a limb. You just don’t want to do it. But the reader doesn’t care about our bloody severed limbs. The reader wants to read crisp clean prose that makes them forget they’re reading.
I can relate, because I am not just a writer, but a reader as well. I will dump a book in a heartbeat if the editing is shoddy. Poor editing disturbs my concentration and detracts from the flow of the story. I can forgive a few errors, but if I find myself editing the text as I read, then I’m likely to stop.
Personally, I’ve managed, at least in part, to overcome my attachment to every word I’ve put down on paper. Now, cutting words and revising phrases feels like spring cleaning, during which I sweep away the dust and what’s left behind is hopefully a bright shining gem.
I’ve come upon a cool little online program designed to help with this task. Editminion is a program created by dr. wicked of Write Or Die. It doesn’t perform the miracle of purging your work of the weight of excess verbiage. That’s a job you will have to do all on your own. That said, Editminion will tell you if you’ve used a passive voice, too many adverbs, or weak sentences. I use Editminion after I’ve edited as a final once over, a buff and shine.
What do you do to purge your prose?