I was originally going to make a tweet about this when I realized the matter is far too complex to put into 140 characters. As you might know I like to scan through writing hashtags and see what other people are saying, and sometimes add my thoughts, but one of the things I keep seeing is this.
A lot of writers seem to be fixated on the idea of slimming down their books. Which, okay, I can see the general idea behind it. Make it clearer, make it better. But that isn’t always the case, especially when I see writers greatly troubled that they had to destroy so many lines and quotes and etc..
What is the point? Forget the textbook basics, we’re all writing our own books here and the only thing we’re getting graded on now is how captivating our stories are. Are you really making it more captivating by slimming it down? If so, at which point do you draw the line, because you are always going to get better and find better ways of wording things.
Bare in mind, I’m not talking about tidying up a cluttered sentence; I’m talking about ‘great lines’ having to be destroyed to make the book better. If that’s the way you want to roll, that’s fine. Sort of like if you want to donate your arm or leg to science, that’s cool too. But if you’re then going to tell me how hard it is and how painful the process is, well… maybe then we have a problem.
Your book is your #1 priority, not its weight. Maybe the cultural need for everything to be thin is starting to rub off on some people. But removing too much from a story is like removing ‘extra’ parts from a machine. Eventually something isn’t going to work right.
We can always get better. But for a short season, there has to be a ‘good enough’ or else we’ll be trapped in Editor’s Prison for the rest of our lives. That’s my thought on the matter, and I’d love to hear yours.