Once again I find myself bowing to his words of wisdom (ok in this case they weren't actually his words, but words of advice to him) nevertheless, he thought them important enough to pass on, so I am doing the same. The words came in the form of a rejection letter and contained the following formula:
I first read this in the rather brilliant 'On Writing' several years ago, and my first reaction was 'works for you, but not for me.' If anything I expected my second draft to be longer than the first because of those areas I knew I had skated over in brief detail the first time round. surely they would need re-writing and expanding? Well sure, some of those patches did need expanding, but in truth the majority of them needed to be hacked away altogether!
I'm currently doing a combined edit/re-write of my second draft and am finally embracing the golden rule and aiming to cut 10%. Because yes, there are areas that now need fleshing out and expanding on, those places where I didn't explain things in quite enough detail. Only, I then appear to have repeated that same sketchy detail two chapters later, and oh look - again a few chapters after that... I have even found what is essentially the same paragraph written twice in the same chapter, a mere page and a half apart!
First draft for me, as I've said before, is mud pie stage. Pour it all on, slap it together and hope it sticks. Better to repeat yourself than forget an idea. Anything goes in a first draft, repetition, ludicrous sub-plots, half baked characters, (and on one page what appears to be a reminder to myself to buy cat food at the weekend.)
But there comes a time to shape the mud pie (er, or maybe wash off the mud? Not sure where I'm going with this!) hence the need to edit as I re-write. There is something immensely liberating about deleting great big chunks of your work - no honestly it really is! I've heard lots of stories of how difficult editing can get, and I'm sure the nearer to finished a piece of work is, the more painful it gets to 'Kill your Darlings' but at this stage, when I know what I'm cutting is utter codswallop, it feels rather nice! Like there is a good piece of writing buried in the mud somewhere, and if I keep digging I may just find it.