More on "Trimming your manuscript"
Published: February 24, 2006
|John K. Borchardt offers "A sane approach to trimming your manuscript" in the April 2006 issue of The Writer. Following are his list of Resources, for readers seeking to learn more about this topic, and his "after" version of the editing challenge he poses in the Before and After sidebar.|
There are a number of books in print that will help writers edit their nonfiction and fiction works to reduce manuscript length, including:
• The Complete Guide to Magazine Article Writing: A Guide to Clear, Powerful, Salable Writing by John M. Wilson (section 12, "Becoming Your Own Editor," pages 215-241)
• Editing Fact and Fiction: A Concise Guide to Book Editing by Leslie T. Sharpe and Irene Gunther (pages 102-146)
• Editors on Editing: What Writers Need to Know About What Editors Do, edited by Gerald Gross
• Line by Line: How to Edit Your Own Writing by Claire Kehrwald Cook (pages 1-17)
• Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself into Print by Renni Browne and Dave King
Here are some online sources:
• The Purdue University Online Writing Lab offers "Editing and Proofreading Strategies for Revision" at http://owl.english.purdue.edu/handouts/general/gl_edit.html and "Revision in Business Writing" at http://owl.english.purdue.edu/handouts/pw/p_revisebus.html
• The Harvard Writing Center offers "Revising the Draft" at www.fas.harvard.edu/~wricntr/documents/Revising.html and "Editing the Essay," Parts One and Two, at www.fas.harvard.edu/~wricntr/documents/edit1.html and www.fas.harvard.edu/~wricntr/documents/edit2.html
Many other universities have writing centers that offer online resources on editing for length.
Before and After
I shortened the following 105-word paragraph, about methods job hunters can use to find jobs at small companies, down to 61 words. How would you do this? My solution to this editing challenge appears afterward.
So there are a lot of good reasons for job hunters to look for a job at a smaller company. How does one go about doing this? There are challenges; smaller companies are often harder to find than large ones. Potential applicants are less familiar with the names and corporate identities of smaller firms. Smaller companies employ proportionally fewer advanced-degree people and often have more flexible requirements for new personnel than do large companies. They can often fulfill their requirements from their local area. This is important to them; many small companies prefer to avoid new employee relocation costs. So they seldom advertise nationally.
Following is the slimmed-down paragraph:
So there are a lot of good reasons to look for a job at companies. How does one do this? There are challenges; smaller companies are harder to find than large ones. Potential applicants are less familiar with the names and corporate identities of smaller firms. They can often fulfill their requirements from their local area. So they seldom advertise nationally.
Note that while words were trimmed here and there from sentences, the big word-count savings were from cutting entire sentences. The offending sentences were removed because by focusing on small-company concerns, not job-hunter concerns, they presented unnecessary material.