Sunday, June 9, 2013

The First Rule of Editing

The first rule of tinkering is to save all the parts.
--Aldo Leopold

Coincidentally, this is also the first rule of editing, especially when editing first draft copy.

Writing tends to improve as you take things away. That's why everyone encourages you to rampage through your first draft--killing your darlings, omitting needless words, deleting entire sentences and paragraphs.

Just be sure to save all the parts! Don't delete anything permanently. Just move the offending text somewhere else: to the bottom of the chapter, to the bottom of the post, or to another document where you keep all your castoff thoughts and ideas.

It's almost certain that you'll use this material elsewhere. Don't waste it. It will be the seeds of the next excellent thing you write.