So, you finished your book? Congratulations! Now the fun begins. I can help you to turn it into a masterpiece. First you cut 20% of the text. It is very important. Any finished work has 20% of easily dismissible material. That’s the secret of building a sustainable form: 20% has to go. Period. Don’t feel sorry, you’re doing yourself a favor. Well done!
Wipe off your tears and take a magnifying glass. Search for all adjectives and replace them with nouns. If you can’t replace them – simply delete. Did you know adjectives are the parasites of good prose? They are the weeds in the flowerbeds of your literary garden. Good style deserves this small sacrifice.
Now, delete every sentence that starts with “I.” Nothing personal, but you don’t want to appear selfish. Remember, this is not about you. Even if it is. With this “I” business out of the way, you are ready to send your book to the editor. When you get it back, full of red-color marking (some pages may look as if they are bleeding), try to save what is salvageable, but remember, most of the time to cut is better than to fix. Be ruthless. Brevity is a virtue and the only true consideration a writer can offer to his reader.
You may resolve that your epic novel isn’t as epic as it seemed at first. Short story perhaps? With this understanding, you may want to revisit its basic premise. Maybe you might consider a prose poem – these are quite popular and can be rather successful in poetry readings. You are not planning a reading? Too bad, but now you are left with a bunch of crossed out pages. You know it’s all for the best, really. You should feel grateful. You were spared the embarrassment.
With this learning experience behind, you are ready for your next yet-to-be masterpiece.
Don’t forget to thank your advisors in the preface. Don’t feel like writing? Perhaps then you can become a critic so you can help others and return the favor. Every writer needs a friendly supportive hand. I’ve lent you mine. Now it’s your turn.