Tuesday, June 28, 2011

How to Shorten Your Book

Revise it backward.

This has never failed me (and believe me, I know about needing to cut wordage). Starting at the end, work back a paragraph at a time, breaking up paragraphs that won't fit on one screen of your word processor at normal viewing size, futzing with wordage until that single-word last line in the paragraph fits on the line ahead of it, ensuring that each chapter ends at the bottom of a page instead of in the top quarter.

Because you're disrupting your context, it's easier to take each paragraph as a unit. My excessively long sentences stand out more. Overused words, ditto. Redundancy, ditto.

Read the forest forward. Read the trees backward. Prune accordingly.

The lesbian western is already shorter by one full page.


  1. Neat idea. I'll give that a try when I next have a running text to trim. Thanks!

  2. I think they advise you to do this in journalism school. Which I've never attended. I'm not sure how or why I started. I probably stumbled on it accidentally the first or second time I tried desperately to cut wordage on a word processor.

    I am old enough that I also know how to revise with scissors and tape!