I'm having a few days off the rewrite to edit some of the chapters I've been rewriting. I love editing. Trouble is that I just want to flesh and flesh and flesh when, really, word counts dictate I must pare and pare and pare. And it's not like there are that many adjectives and adverbs to pare. When I was at Clarion, Jack Dann told me my style was much closer to Hemingway's than Faulkner's. So the dilemma is what to cut. Sometimes it's a bit of setting, or a bit of action that is incidental to the plot. I have to be careful that I'm not cutting characterisation, because more than anything I want a sense of fully rounded characters -- I want readers to care for my characters and empathise with their struggles.
So, I was very happy today when I found a paragraph that repeated something I'd said in an earlier chapter, and I was able to nuke the whole para. I liked the writing, but repetition is deadly for a reader. They're left thinking, I got this already -- why are you telling me again? Kristin Nelson, the agent, recently blogged about repeating dialogue in the narrative (or vice versa), and I must admit it's one of my pet hates. Some of my students do it too. It drives me nuts. They only do it once or twice, and then it becomes obvious to them. I can't remember ever repeating anything so blantant, but perhaps I did in my earlier days. When I'm being repetitious, it's usually because I'm worried that the reader isn't going to remember something, but it's better to trust the reader. Don't speak (or write) down to them. Anyway, time to get back to the editing. I love the way I can blog as a break from writing!