I was looking on the Writers of the Future forum and found mention of a book called The 10% Solution, by Ken Rand. I know it sounds like a religious thing or some self help manual, but it’s not. It’s a guide to trimming the excess fat from writing and making it clearer and more accurate, faster paced and all the stuff you really need to put a bit of polish on it.
Anyway I hunted around and finally found a copy on Ebay. It arrived, all the way from America, last week and I decided to put it, together with what I picked up on the WotF workshop, to the test on an old bit of writing I had sent to the void that is known as the trunk.
This piece was something written as a response to a writing challenge on the Hatrack River forums, which have closed down since, and was just sat there. It was about 3,000 words long and had no try/fail cycles at all, in fact it was flat and with no real story in it, but the idea was there. So I sat down and re-plotted it, edited it, put in the try/fail cycles, reinvented the main character and brought it up to a smidgeon over 7,000 words. Now it had a story, read pretty well and seemed to be pretty fast paced.
Then I got out The 10% Solution. Rand’s book is not very long, not even a hundred pages, but is packed with a lot of useful stuff and his entire editing process to cut out all the rubbish you didn’t realise you’d written. It’s done by searching for syllables, such as ‘ly’ and ‘ing’, finding words that are just too long, cutting out passive voice and correcting formatting. There’s more to it than that, but if you want the full idea it’s on Ebay and Amazon.
After I’d finished I was amazed at how much I’d chopped out from the story. It wasn’t ten percent, more like seven by my calculations, but the story is much better, the pacing sleeker and easy to read. It has also been sent out for submission.
I’d recommend it, and I don’t do much recommending. I will definitely do this process with anything I write in the future. I have a novel that could do with at least ten percent knocking off it.