Applying the rules of art to writing: eliminate the non-essential

After so much editing on my first three books I tried to “edit” as I wrote on the fourth book. Not a good idea, for me anyway, as it slowed me down. I thought if I could just be more aware of how I wrote each paragraph and section of dialogue it would mean less time editing at the end. I still spent the time no matter if it’s as I go along or when I am finished first draft. It was a worthwhile experiment but I have now gone back to letting the words flow more freely and I feel I am making more progress this way.

sandra danby

“Every work of art should contain whatever it needs to fulfil its descriptive objective but nothing more. Look at the ‘leftover’ parts of every composition. Successful images have no dead spaces or inactive parts. Look at your compositions holistically and make sure that every element advances the purposes of the whole.”
Excerpt from ‘101 Things to Learn in Art School’ by Kit White 

[photo:] [photo:] Every writer has over-written, been carried away with a sub-plot that leads nowhere, given a character its head and let it run away from the plot. When I was writing my first novel Ignoring Gravity, I read an interview with a novelist who recommended asking yourself of a chapter or passage you’ve just written: ‘But what does it do? How does it progress the story?’

If you don’t know, stop and consider.

If you do know and it is taking the story in a…

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