• Bridge Ladies

    Bridge Ladies When I set out to learn about my mother's bridge club, the Jewish octogenarians behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, their gen, and the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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We Don’t Have Tomorrow But We Had Yesterday

I recently got some amazing notes on my script. It required cutting a bunch of scenes I had  put a lot of much work into. But I understood immediately upon hearing the notes that they were right. It was like the best haircut I’ve ever had, understanding of course that I’ve never had a good haircut including the one I gave myself in the fifth grade. Great editing is also like losing weight, though again I know very little about that, too.

Challenge: how much can you cut from your current project?

12 Responses

  1. I recently cut something I thought I loved and had the same haircut reaction. I’d say if I had an editor that I trusted and worked well with I’d be willing to cut just about anything.

  2. Challenge is already underway: I foolishly decided to offer one of my many unpublished manuscripts as chapter-by-chapter posts on my website. Then, I discovered that large portions of the manuscript (which had been printed out as a single copy document due to a computer issue) had been lost during the relocation of my office. I am frantically attempting to reinvent this homely little story by bravely tossing away pages of drivel that no longer relates to what is left of the plot. I’m guessing 40% has been lost; my editing has trimmed off probably another 15%. At this rate, it may eventually read as a haiku.

  3. Hey Betsy – I like cutting – I hate things that go on too long. So I cut out a lot – but rarely my “darlings” – I like my darlings, despite advice to the contrary. Just as I was about to return the PDF proofs to my publisher on my latest novel, I discovered that I used the word “really” 92 times! So I cut about half of them. Only the essential ones remain, and there are still a lot. Really!

  4. Nice. Sounds like you had someone really intuitive and wise helping you.

  5. There’s nothing I’ve ever written that wasn’t improved by a (good) editor. Cut. Cut. Cut.

  6. A catchphrase I often apply to my writing is “Too many words.” Another one is “Sometimes the best word is the one that’s not there.” Can’t cut anything yet from my current project, though—have to finish it first.

  7. Oh I’ve been cutting and cutting and cutting. I’m a little below acceptable word count, so it’s cut through my last two chapters and then add. Again.

  8. I can cut as much as needed, whatever makes it better.

    I recently whittled my 120K tome down to 105K by cutting out filtering words mostly, and usually by doing that, I find the other stuff that’s got to go.

    To Kyler’s point about his overuse of “really,” I found over 500 instances of “look” and all variations of it, looked, looking, etc., which then led me to see/saw/seen, and on and on.

    Cut, cut, cut.

  9. Dear Betz: Cutting My Publisher’s Throat, Then My Own. But What Would The World Do Without Me? WHAT WOULD I DO WITHOUT MY SELF?!!? from: “The I & The Separate Self,” By S.A. Heaney & Jerome Howard. “Big Words, Small Print, No Sales.”~The Jerkus Review.

  10. “Challenge: how much can you cut from your current project?”

    Generally speaking, I can cut as much as needs to be cut.

    I’m composing it with more than I know is going to remain in it after the first draft is complete. On a read-through I did a few weeks ago, I cut a substantial part from the second section (the finished project will have six or seven or eight). Sometimes less is more.

    I’ve also been excerpting parts from it and polishing them up for independent submission. Good news: one such excerpt has been accepted for publication by a litmag in LA. Should be out in the spring.

  11. I’ve been told I have to add, so I started to beef up the dish and hell’s bells I ended up cutting almost to an empty platter. Time to find some new ingredients that will work. Jeez…

  12. I am so far above an acceptable word count that it’s embarrassing. I want to cut everything that should be cut but I can no longer tell which darlings are holding the tapestry together. Sigh…

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