cutting words is writing

Cutting words is writing

If you’re like me, your first drafts aren’t perfect. As part of your editing, you may need to cut words.

I like what Joe Moran says about cutting words in First You Write a Sentence:

…cutting words is also writing. We make meaning not just by adding words but by taking them away.

Moreover, he says:

Michelangelo said that David was hidden in that rough block of marble all along. The art of it was freeing the body from within by removing the superfluous stone. All that sculptures flawless detail—the tensed neck, the bulging veins on the hands, the twist of the torso and the curve of the hips so frugally conveying that a moment of repose is about to turn into action—was made only by gouging out, flaking off and chipping away. Cutting words has this same creative quality. It seems to liberate a meaning that the writer was not aware of but was waiting there to be found. Distilling prose, like boiling down a sauce, releases its real flavor and its true essence.


Think of Moran’s words—and Michelangelo’s art—the next time you hesitate to cut words. They should make your task easier.

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