This week on Hide and Create, Debbie Viguie, Jordan Ellinger, Michael Sullivan, and Joshua Essoe talk about just who you’re writing your great [insert country here] novel for.
I really like the thought: “Write for yourself and edit for your reader.” This ties in a little to Writing for Love or Money: if you want your book to reach the widest audience–and really who doesn’t want that?–I think writers need to realize that the book they’re writing isn’t theirs at all. It’s their readers’.
Frankly, I think this is quite a liberating thought.
So after you write your heart out, and after you’ve written the book that you wanted to write, take out your red pen and start cutting.
1. Take out all the unnecessary, and excessive detail–whether that be on your favorite setting or the full explanation of exactly how that crushed-almond paper is milled. Most readers are not going to care about those details the way that you do.
2. Tighten or cut the pages of dialogue or exposition as the narrator or the characters explain the plot to readers or to each other. Even if you’ve got great dialogue, show this, don’t info dump it.
3. Revise sentences with twenty-eight words that could be told in eight.
4. Unless it’s the style and voice you’re banking on — for example, if you’re writing an autobiography, a memoir, or perhaps a travel journal — remove yourself from your writing as much as possible. What I mean by that, is leave the story and text as open as possible for your readers to fill it with themselves rather than feel like that space has already been taken by you.
Who knows, maybe someday all that luscious prose can go into an author’s-cut special edition, and you can revel in all that you removed that you loved so much as an homage to you – but until then, let your readers revel in your story for themselves.