April 19th, 2005


4/19/05: Cutting and hemming

Editing hours: 48.9 | Since last entry: 2.5 | Percent complete: 82%

Spent most of the evening reducing a couple of Jason's computer-hacking scenes that some critiquers thought went on too long. It was surprisingly hard to reduce; every bit of information seemed necessary. But I got rid of a sentence here and a paragraph there... and then I realized this wasn't doing enough good, right around the time I noticed that it might be possible to excise an entire bit: a place where Jason connected a Cetan personal ID code to a Cetan email address by way of a document filched from somewhere else. All I had to do was to change the email address to an ID code and I could get rid of the connecting document, the filch, and the decipherment of the filched document. This is much easier in fiction than it is in real code.

I'm not sure how many words I managed to get rid of, but it was probably nearly five hundred. Then I added back a hundred or two, smoothing over the seams where the removed bit had been. It does involve a bit of a coincidence, but the coincidence was there before, it just wasn't as obvious.

A good evening's work. Definitely entering the home stretch here.

By the way... I seem to have created a bit of a kerfuffle with my statement about removing references to food. This isn't the first time I've raised hackles by overstating good advice I've received. Food is good and useful in fiction. It can be used to characterize people, and to give them things to do that display emotion, and even to raise tension. The thing to avoid is the use of food (or anything, really) in a scene where it isn't doing any of those things. It's an easy trap for some writers to fall into. Especially if you write while you're hungry.

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