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A Tale of Two Sisters Blog

We support, celebrate, and teach writers.

Literary Liposuction Trims the Excess from any Manuscript

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Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.
— Anton Chekhov

by Elizabeth

My 414-page manuscript is currently undergoing a critical procedure:

Literary Liposuction.

That’s a term I created to describe the editing process.

It means sucking out extraneous words.

Trimming the flab.

Toning. Tightening.

I’ve been hard at work doing just that, and it’s exciting.

Another procedure is transforming scenes from telling to showing.

“Show, don’t tell,” is one of the most important rules of great writing.

Don’t just give narrative that tells what happened.

Show it!  

Use dialogue and action to engage the reader in the taste, sounds, feelings, visuals, and scents of your scenes.  

I’m guilty of writing flat passages that are straight narrative and as a result --


So I’m bringing those passages to life while also streamlining God’s Answer Is Know: Lessons From a Spiritual Life by Elizabeth Ann Atkins.

Another twist: working on a hard copy of the manuscript.

Something happens when you read the printed-out version of a book as opposed to staring at the computer screen.  You see things differently. And that enables you to evaluate the passages in a new way.

So I’ve been marking up the manuscript with a pen, writing notes on how to rearrange things.

Sitting in the stillness and silence and solitude—with just me and my giant stack of printed-out pages—is absolute author nirvana.

My energy stays stoked.

I am bubbling with gratitude that I get to do this—and that I finally finished my book after 15 years of writing it!

Even better, very soon I will share it with YOU!

But first my sentences and paragraphs and pages are going under the editor’s knife with laser-beam focus to transform it into a masterpiece.

Time to get back at it…

©2019 Elizabeth Ann Atkins

When your story is ready for rewrite, cut it to the bone. Get rid of every ounce of excess fat. This is going to hurt; revising a story down to the bare essentials ... must be done.
— Stephen King