The next stage for a writer who continues to evolve in his or her skills is learning to “cut the fat.” First drafts are enveloped and permeated by streaks of fat, things that do not really help to carry the essential message. But the evolving writer can learn how to streamline that message and get quickly to its various points, to “cut the fat,” just like a butcher might do.
More recently, the editor of The Writer accepted one of my submissions but asked me to reduce it by two-thirds! It took a lot of work, but I was able to do so, and it was published https://www.writermag.com/2016/04/11/dennis-l-peterson/ .
More was involved in my cutting the fat for both of those projects than I can explain here, but here are a few of the ways I trimmed my writing to produce exactly what the editors wanted. These actions seldom will hurt your writing but always will help in communicating your message.
Eliminate needless repetition and redundancies.
Give only the number of examples, quotations, or Bible references needed to get your point across; don’t pile them up like cordwood.
Don’t use a long, complicated word when a simple one will do.
Avoid “Pauline” writing (i.e., a long series of complex sentences). Instead, use a variety of sentence structures: simple, compound, and a few complex sentences.
These are only a few of the many ways you can trim the fat from your writing. Begin practicing them and you’ll soon discover many others.
How badly do you want to get published? Be willing to put in the work necessary to cut the fat, radically if necessary (as in the two examples I’ve given), and you’ll begin seeing more progress in your publication record.
What are some ways that you’ve discovered to cut the fat in your writing? Share a few of them with us.
Copyright (c) 2018, Dennis L. Peterson