Not that she knows me from Adam, but I have to send my thanks to Cat Rambo for recommending Ken Rand's '10% Solution' through an SFWA blog posting. "You cannot get more bang for your buck than buying this book and applying its methods". Not 'arf. I've stopped writing and all I seem to have done for the last fortnight is edit, with stories that I'd declared good enough shedding, if not 10%, then at least 5% of fat.
A self-help book that actually works, Ken provides a checklist of words to CTRL-F for, and what to do when you find them. My tic is 'that'. About half of all the 'that's I type are superfluous. Who'd have thought? Words just drop away, fragments get combined, redundancies leap into the crosshairs of the delete key.
That said, is there a 'by' missing from Cat's quote? Has she got carried away in the edit?!
But the thing I like the most about the book is that it gives you a finishing point. On too many stories I have spent far too much time fiddling. This gives you an end point, a checklist of things after which you can say, it's done. Whether this'll give my stories the final push to get them over the transom, only time will tell. Too often I'm seeing submissions make it over the initial hurdles, the Grinder showing swathes of others rejected long before mine, only to get binned in the final cut. So near, so far.
Bizarrely, one story that I know could have shed some fat is Three Wishes, newly published by Daily Science Fiction. That's the story that I feared lost somewhere in the system. The first errant 'that'? - twenty-two words in! Actually, the whole second sentence:
Elizabeth had suspected for most of the morning that their tour guide was making it up as she went along.
All morning, Elizabeth had suspected their tour guide of making it up as she went along.
Twenty words down to sixteen. A twenty percent reduction! And I've barely got going. My only consolation: knowledge that it must have been good enough all along to publish despite the flaws. Why not judge for yourself...
2084. The world remains at war.
In the Eurasian desert, twenty-year old Adnan emerges from a coma with memories of a strictly ordered city of steel and glass, and a woman he loved.
The city is the Dome, and the woman... is Adnan's secret to keep.
Adnan learns what the Dome is, and what his role really was within it. He learns why everybody fears the Sickness more than the troopers. And he learns why he is the only one who can stop the war.
Persuaded to re-enter the Dome to implant a virus that will bring the war machine to its knees, the resistance think that Adnan is returning to free the many - but really he wants to free the one.
24 0s & a 2
Twenty-four slipstream stories. Frequently absurd, often minimifidian, occasionally heroic.