UnF*cking a Rough Draft: Cutting

Cutting is one of the hardest things to do in regards to writing. Think of all the hours you spent typing away at your keyboard, and now you need to just delete some of it. I know it sounds stupid, but this could be the metaphorical difference between life and death for your manuscript. You cannot tell me that every single word is needed. I guarantee, at the bare minimum, that you have added in a typo or two of the exact same word somewhere in your rough draft. Cutting isn’t actually about fixing those problems. Cutting focuses on more important issues rather than the minor typos.

Most people stop reading a book if it seems like nothing is happening. Pretty much, if you bore the reader too long, you lose them. Cutting is how we fix this. A rough draft might describe the day-to-day activities of a traveler on the road, but if that stuff has little to no impact on the overall story, why keep it in? If the reader can go from one exciting, bit to the next without having to reader fifty pages of walking on a road, they will be much more invested in your story. Here are some areas to look for when you are in the cutting stage of the revision process:

  • Needless information- Like I said, don’t bore the reader.
  • Large sections of internal thoughts- This translates to the character sitting down doing nothing besides thinking. Try to work the important stuff from these parts into some other activity, (Exercise, playing a game, etc) and show how their preoccupied thoughts affects them in the real world.
  • Expostition- Don’t spend an entire chapter explaining the intricate history of your world before you’ve even started the story. Why would a reader care about all of this info, if they are not even sure that they are going to finish your book to begin with?
  • Description- Large amounts of description has the problem of slowing the pace of your story. It might create a more vibrant scene, but too much description can make the reader lost. Try to focus on one or two distinctive elements and make their descriptions stand-out. (Ice-blue eyes does not cut it since it is too common, but electric-blue eyes might.) No one wants to read an entire page describing a character that wont even be in the story next chapter.
  • Dialogue- Try to make your dialogue sound natural. If you find a character speaking about a lot of information that they wouldn’t normally even think about, then that is a section you might want to consider cutting.

Cutting was one of the hardest concepts for me to grasp in regards to revision. I also believe that it served as a massive boast to the overall quality of my work. I hope that everyone is having a great day and good luck with your writing.



7 thoughts on “UnF*cking a Rough Draft: Cutting

  1. A great post full of advice written clearly. I had to learn the hard way for cutting but I`m sort of used to it now, if we every are. Writing is going good. Hope you and your family are good too.


  2. Cutting is a hard task, particularly if you liked it, loved it even but it just doesn’t fit anymore.
    I found one way around the agony was if the part was quite substantial (over 4 lines) I would Copy & Paste the piece into a folder entitled “Possible Use For Later”, in the notion that it could form the basis for something in another book.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is an awesome idea, and I am definately going to start doing that! Thank you so much, if you don’t mind me asking is their any area that you find yourself often cutting out in the revision process? For me, I often write in a lot of boring scenes getting characters from point A to point B.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m a very undisciplined writer, so when reviewing/editing I’m constantly having to look out for lapses in continuity or long rambling episodes which are fun (I tend to write light or humour) but do break up the pace; and of course typos!
        You mention the A to B problem; this can come down to style. Some writers have a knack of writing in a swift punchy style which gets the job done. There again others like to fill in detail; I’m in the latter camp. Sometimes those A to B scenes can afford a few opportunities to include some relevant points to character or to plot.So when encountering one of those before I ‘Copy & Paste’ it, it gets a second chance with added nuances.
        Hope that helps.
        Best wishes with your project.


  3. [Jumped over from Kate McClelland’s reblog]

    Great reminders here – but I’m betting that Margaret Atwood might argue about the relative importance of action vs. internal thoughts and situation descriptions (first novel, award-winning, A Handmaid’s Tale: quite the textbook for how to keep lack of action compelling). Not only was I not bored, I was truly fascinated from the onset – very still, a real thought-piece for the most part, yet goose bump inspiring none-the-less.

    Like everything else about the writing task, we must begin cutting with our overall objectives for the piece at hand, and cut out the parts that lead the reader in another direction. And man-o-man can that be a difficult undertaking!

    Nice post – thanks!
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMore dot com)
    – ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder –
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”

    Liked by 1 person

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