Wednesday, 3 October 2012

An Extra Post on Editing

I've been trying to keep to a schedule of posting every Tuesday, and I do recognise that today is Wednesday, but I found something that I thought was interesting, especially in light of yesterday's post. Nick Hornby, writer of many novels which I have never read, has this to say about editing:

And there's some stuff about the whole winnowing process I just don't get. Why does it always stop when the work in question has been reduced to sixty or seventy thousand words—entirely coincidentally, I'm sure, the minimum length for a publishable novel? I'm sure you could get it down to twenty or thirty if you tried hard enough. In fact, why stop at twenty or thirty? Why write at all? Why not just jot the plot and a couple of themes down on the back of an envelope and leave it at that? The truth is, there's nothing very utilitarian about fiction or its creation, and I suspect that people are desperate to make it sound manly, backbreaking labor because it's such a wussy thing to do in the first place. The obsession with austerity is an attempt to compensate, to make writing resemble a real job, like farming, or logging. (It's also why people who work in advertising put in twenty-hour days.) Go on, young writers—treat yourself to a joke, or an adverb! Spoil yourself! Readers won't mind!

I don't have any comments to make on this, really, just that it's good to hear that the 'kill everything that doesn't further the plot' argument isn't universally accepted just yet.

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