Our Masterpieces...Err, Our Novels

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Best Writing Advice Ev-AH!

Workout Song of the Day: "Girl Talk" by TLC

My peeps over at YA Highway have just posted another Road Trip Wednesday question. This week they ask: what is the best piece of writing advice that you've ever received?

And without further ado, my answer is:

READ!! Courtesy of any writer that I've ever encountered.

But even though it's pretty spot-on, I think this is more of a cop-out response. Once I really started to think about it, I realized that the best piece of writing advice came from one of my favorite authors, Elizabeth Scott.

You see, the other day Ms. Scott and I were having lunch (on her tab, of course), and she says to me: "Pam, I pretty much cut out about 30% of my first draft."

"30%?" I ask, strings of cheese from my pizza drooping from my chin. "Why--that's almost a third! What do you cut out?"

"Lots. Characters, dialogue, unnecessary passages. Pretty much anything that stalls the story."

"But, but...all that work! How could you just delete it?"

"Pam," Elizabeth says, handing me a napkin for my cheesy chin. "That's what they have jump drives for."

End scene.

Okay, maybe I lied a bit. Maybe I heard Ms. Scott share this on one of her awesome vlogs from the Readergirlz blog. But her comment still resonated with me.

You see, I'm a bloated writer--and I'm not talking about my waistline (lost 14 pounds, baby! But more on that later). I tend to over-explain and repeat myself like I have OCD. And you know what? It's okay. I can write as much as I want to about someone's smile or how much they hate their father. Then later, after my first draft is complete, I can point out the parts where my eyes becomes crossed with boredom and slash them. It was scary at first, but now I have just as much fun taking out words as I do writing them.

This is advice that I think will actually stick. What about you? Do you have fun chopping up your manuscript?

P.S. Don't forget to check out my Teaser Tuesday contest, which will be held every Tuesday in April (see post below).


Marquita Hockaday said...

No! I hate chopping up stuff, I feel like I'm neglecting my first born -well my not born at all actually- but you get what I mean. Anyway, you actually gave me the advice to chop out stuff and I wrote about it on my blog! YEAH! So even though it's something you used to have a problem with, you still pass it on to others. Good on ya!

Veronica Roth said...

YES! Perfect advice. I am all about the chopping.

Kate Hart said...

I have three or four "cut stuff" files just for this one book-- a new document each draft. LOL

Kaitlin Ward said...

oh man do my drafts ever fluctuate in word count like crazy. I definitely tend to be an overwriter. It's terrifying to start chopping, but once you get doing it, it's pretty fun.

Marilyn Almodovar said...

I love her! Currently reading Stealing Heaven ;D

That's really good advice!

Pam Harris said...

Now all I need to do is turn off my "internal editor" so that I won't chop while writing my first draft. :)

The Blue Lipstick Samurai said...

OCD girls, put your hands up!

*hand goes up and down three times*

Now that that's over, awesome advice. (: It's best to be concise. ...And to stop rhyming accidentally...

Jess said...

I hate chopping, but I know it needs to be done. I have once character who I'm rather fond of, but I'm wondering if she's actually important enough to keep around. (Wow, doesn't that sound horrible? So glad we're talking about fictional characters...) Am I being selfish if I really really really want her to stay?

YA Highway said...

Thanks for participating, Pam!