August 16th, 2004

Fishy Circumstances

The Roadkill of Writing

Two things in particular have reminded me about the Cape Code writing workshop this week: pictures in my email from fellow participants, and putting my newly honed editing skills to work on a peer-editing project. These, in turn, reminded me of some of the advice we received over the course of that week.

  • There are two ways to write: shooting ducks or hunting deer. (Tom Jehn) In the first method, the writer writes down all ideas as they come to her, and edits them together into collective coherence later. In the second, the narrative sequence takes priority, and the writer writes in whatever order is sequential to the narrative.

  • "Kill your darlings." (Tom Regan) If you are really, really pleased (chuffed, even) with a particular turn of phrase or analogy in your writing and you leave it intact in your editing, then odds are good that the phrase needs to go entirely, that it's overwritten, and your writing will be better off without it.

Cutting paragraphs, eliminating prolixity, and savage reviews: writing is such a violent activity.