Why is self-editing essential


The feeling is exhilarating. You have finally typed out, "THE END". But is it really

the end? The many excruciating months of writing? Chances are, not at all and this, unfortunately,

a reality. OK, you have finished this 4000 words masterpiece and you wish to enter it in a short

story competition. The rules are very strict, you are required to submit a 2 500 word product, and

you feel strongly you want to enter your work, it is a masterpiece after all. The competition rules are

unambiguous, your work will be disqualified should it exceed this mark.

Right! You need a butcher's knife to peel off the fat around your (well crafted?) work. Is this possible?

You wonder. Yes, it is possible, you only need to be brutal on re-working your product. Of course, self-editing

is a tedious task. Go back to your manuscript and there is a likelihood that some of your sentences are

more than 30 words long and confusing. In this case, you need to rework the sentences. and even cut them


Let us look at the example below. I must admit I  stumbled across it on the net more than five years ago,

and therefore I am unable to credit its author. 

(1)"Kate was able to use the information that she in her files and spoke to a number of people about the

problem and managed to resolve it". - This sentence has 28 words.

(2) "Kate resolved the problem using her contacts and available information" - This sentence has 11 words.

Do you see where cutting all the fat comes in? No, doubt there are many other such sentences in your short

story that needs cutting. Have you noticed how your work is cluttered with adverbs? Well, indeed they can be useful

and even indispensable, however, some are unnecessary and a big turn-off. 

"He drove quickly to the shop"

Change the sentence. "He raced to the shop".

However, varying sentences length is an important feature of good writing. Some should be long, clear

and flowing. Yes, others short sweet and short. You need to be brutal with your self-editing process,

even if in many instances you find you are more in love with the text you have written,

but when it is too long and rambling will only serve to confuse your readers, and they will certainly

put away your book. God forbid that happens to you.