I spent the last week or so going through the manuscript of my current novel and weeding out unnecessary details that can cause a story to drag. Writers differ, of course, but for me the worst two culprits are ping-pong dialogue and instances of droning monologue. Cut these, and the manuscript begins to flow, the story takes shape and readers can better identify with the events on the page.

Can writers cut too much? I think so. I would advise any writer to keep copies of all past manuscripts, carefully titled to avoid confusion – for instance “draft five, summer eleven.” Ruthless editing will usually strengthen the overall structure of a novel, but sometimes a writer goes too far in cutting superfluous material, losing a degree of immediacy and individuality in the process. On those occasions, the writer might consider going back to a previous draft, lifting a few favourite sections and carefully implementing these in the new draft.

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2 thoughts on “Writing Fiction: Pruning and Weeding

  1. I keep all of my old drafts as well, sort of as a just-in-case kind of deal if I want to go back to an earlier version or revive a deleted scene. Seems unlikely, but it’s still a good practice.

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