That is totally relevant to my life, like, ALL THE TIME, it sometimes seems.
Because it’s tips for revision.
Here’s a highly condensed list (follow the link and read the whole thing):
1. No matter how much you may like a scene or a line, if it doesn’t serve the story it has to go.
2. Edit in layers, focusing on one thing at a time.
3. Make sure every character is acting with purpose, and not just doing what plot tells them to.
4. Do characters grow or are they the same at the end?
5. Make sure it’s dire. Make sure your protag has a lot to lose if they don’t solve their problem.
6. Make sure you have individual voices for all your characters.
7. We all have words we like to use or things we do that we know we need to cut. Hunt down the mistakes you know are there.
8. Make sure you switch smoothly and clearly when changing scenes, locations, and POVs.
9. Find a way to include [backstory] in ways that don’t stop the story. If you can’t, cut it.
10. Don’t be afraid to cut.
That’s the short version, like I said! I personally think everything here is important and also sometimes hard except 8, which offhand I don’t think I’ve had too much of a struggle with. Well, number 7 is not actually hard, but it is highly tedious. The Find command is your friend when it comes to taking out half those semicolons or whatever.
I think 3, 4, and 6 are the hardest because it can be impossible to tell whether you’ve actually done it or not. Especially in later revisions, you can be too close to the story to see whether your tweaks have got the job done or not.
That’s why critical readers are so important!
And it’s not just me, either. Even Caitlin (my agent, and a pro at editing), handed the most recent version of BLACK DOG off to a colleague because she felt a fresh pair of eyes would be really helpful. It’s very reassuring that this colleague saw almost nothing to mess with. Yay!
In case you’re interested, I will be cutting two scenes to speed them up, including the climactic battle. But evidently everything important is working at this point. Whew!