Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Slashing Words--Hurt or Help?

We take pride in the words we string together. We love them, and the last thing we want to do is get rid of them. It just plain hurts.

There have been many instances when people in my online critique group submit a story they've spent hours on only to have the critters suggest getting rid of this paragraph or that sentence. The reasons given are usually It's redundant. or This is information for a separate essay. or Your readers will lose interest with the length of your description. There are others, but you get the idea. Sometimes we write things that are not necessary to our story and may even detract from the main thrust of the story, essay or article.

Only recently, I subbed a story for a new Chicken Soup book to my crit group. I thought I'd done a  fairly good job on it, but I know that I need other eyes on the story to re-enforce my opinion. Other eyes did not agree with me. In fact, several suggested slashing two full paragraphs that concluded the story.

Whoa! Two full paragraphs, many sentences and words that came from my heart? The agony of slashing those words hit like a blow to the gut. But then I read the story from start to finish twice. The first time I read it in full, and the second time I stopped before I came to those final paragraphs.

Guess what? The story had far more impact without them. It was perfectly clear at that point. But doggone it, I liked those two paragraphs that had to go. Still, I knew they didn't belong. But all is not lost as two or three people who critted that story said that the final two paragraphs might be expanded into a personal essaay, completely separate from the first story. My precious words can be saved!

No matter how much it hurts to slash parts of what you've written, it's only going to help in the long run.  The result will most likely be a tighter, better story that holds your readers' interest.

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