Edit with Murder on Your Mind

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

I highly recommend reading The Memoir Project by Marion Roach Smith. In this insightful guidebook, Marion urges us to write with intent. Here’s her take on editing:

The goal of a good edit is for the piece to read like a sleigh ride: smooth and fast. It can, if not a word is extra, not a phrase is flabby. Here’s the razor-sharp rule: If you find yourself skimming a sentence or paragraph, thinking the reader will enjoy herself later, forget it. That’s not how readers work, and never how editors read. They don’t say, “I bet this will get good soon, so I’ll keep plowing.” If editors and readers have one thing in common, it’s that they bail out at the first sign of trouble, when the writing appears to be out of control.

And who can blame them? There is always something else to read.

The most basic rule of editing is that if you can’t bear to read it, no one else can either. So, when you find yourself skimming, commit murder.

Source: The Memoir Project by Marion Roach Smith, p. 109

3 responses to “Edit with Murder on Your Mind

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