|The author, Dane F. Baylis|
(If these seem to be a bit repetitive just think of them as as those fliers, cards, and notes that pile up on bulletin boards. I'll take down anything that no longer applies, but while they're pertinent...)
1. I am a believer in the never ending process of learning. In that cause I would like to put out an invitation to poets living in the Ventura, California area. Wednesday nights, for the next seven weeks, at 7 PM in Ventura at the Vita Art Center, 432 North Ventura Avenue, there will be an ongoing poetry workshop. This is a great opportunity to sharpen your craft and gather with other writers in the pursuit of excellence.
2. Sorry, no longer a second announcement for this spot. Due to a surprising, TOTAL, lack of interest on the part of the readership I have decided to put the contest idea down until I can come up with a better approach. I am still open to input, but, barring anything positive or helpful, at this point the original idea is shelved.
HOW RUTHLESS ARE YOU?
When editing, that is.
You've just finished that first draft. It's as rough as it gets. Things seem to jump around and you know there are some glaring inconsistencies. What's your first inclination? Fill in the holes...OR...Rip into what you have, reducing it to an even more skeletal state?
I would suggest the latter. Why? Because at this stage it is easier than when you've really started swaddling that baby in colorful, and often times useless, prose that can be even harder to chuck in the trashcan as you fall in love with you, the AUTHOR. Now's the time when you can go after simple, painless removals. Start with the word 'the'. No, really! You'll be surprised how many times it turns up where it isn't needed.
Next it's time to attack adjectives and adverbs. No time for surgery here, this is jungle warfare. Put down your scalpel and sieze a machete! Go after all of them as if you were clearing a campsite in Borneo. Come on. Grinned slyly? Nope. Just grinned. Swiftly fell? Uh-uh. Fell. If it has an 'ly' on its tail, it is suspect and a casualty. Again, why? Look at what we went after. Trite, over used, and cliche'd. Remember, you're aiming for a story hiding inside unneeded verbiage.
Are there passages where you seem to go on and on with description? Remember, Show don't tell. That doesn't mean drown your reader in paragraphs of exposition. It means say it with action or dialogue. Speaking of dialogue. Only have one character in a scene or entire story? Try internal monologue as a substitute for dialogue. Keep it terse and pithy. How often do you think in whole, grammatically correct, sentences? If you can't pull out at least fifteen to twenty percent from a story this way, YOUR NOT TRYING! Okay, now your ready to actually write, because real writing begins with rewriting.
You've reduced the thing to its true essentials. Now look for those places where you might be tempted to pad the heck out of it to make a point. Don't do it! Sit back, think, ponder, agonize. There is probably a better way of saying it. In fact, that hole might not need any filling. It might be the kind of mystery that keeps your reader thinking. A thinking reader is an involved reader and if you involve your reader in your journey, letting them use their imaginations, you have more than likely gained a repeat fan. What have you got to lose? Just a ton of unnecessary flab on the way to a truly sleek vehicle.
Meantime...live, love, write.
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Dane F. Baylis