Cutting Words

Editing is an excruciating process, especially when it involves the extraction of beloved words. For writers, words are our progeny. It’s painful to part with them. Yet, we remove favored words all of the time, as an act of sacrificial love for our manuscripts and mercy for readers everywhere.

Fortunately, I just thought of a way to save my words AND make incomplete manuscripts happy. I opened a home for orphaned words, lines, and scenes today. I’m making excess words available for adoption!

This is my first foundling, cut from my children’s chapter book manuscript:

While Gramma helped Papa catch the tumbling toys, I chased a crazy ping pong ball–ping, ping, ping–until it plopped into the kitty litter–plip. I decided to leave it. Maybe Papa and Gramma would think the cat laid an egg.

Disclaimer: I didn’t say all word orphans were appealing. But I’m holding onto the hope that there’s a manuscript out there that’ll think this is the cutest word baby ever.

A Work In Progress

The longest minutes of my week happen when others critique my work.  Sometimes, to cope, I daydream about how the classics would fare after Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) evenings at the coffee shop.  Consider Madeleine L’Engle’s  A Wrinkle in Time.

      Draft one: It was a dark and stormy night. (Passive. Show, don’t tell.)
      Draft two: It stormed darkly. (Adverbs diminish the power of the verb.)
      Draft three: It stormed. (Borrrring.)
      Draft 378: It was a dark and stormy night. (Perfect. Why didn’t you say that in the first place?)

       Journal entry: Writing is hard. (Passive. Show, don’t tell.)