good edits make good writing

Editing is an essential part of the creative process – it is just as important to know what to leave out of your story as it is to know what to put in. Take out anything that doesn’t enhance character, advance plot, intensify experience or illuminate critical backstory.

Elmore Leonard said: “I try to leave out the parts that people skip.”

When you read through what you’ve written, ask yourself “is this interesting?” “is this essential?” If the answer to either is “no”, then take it out.

What about something that feels essential but isn’t interesting? Find a way to say it that either doesn’t take up your reader’s time (perhaps it can be summarized in one sentence) or that is so compelling your reader will want to take the time to read, rather than skip it.

Our readers shouldn’t have to do the editing for us – by skipping the bad or boring parts – we want to encourage them to read everything we write, and want more.

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