Posted by on Aug 7, 2014 in Tips | 0 comments

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Have you ever wondered when the best time is to involve an editor in your writing process?

Hi, this is Amanda Rooker, Executive Editor at SplitSeed, and today’s tip is number six in our series on the creative process. Element number six is pruning. If you have herbs or fruit trees in your garden, you know the importance of pruning. Herbs grow best when you pinch back the tops and allow the leaves to keep growing; otherwise they will quickly go to seed and stop investing their growth energy in producing the fruit or the produce that you want—which, in the case of herbs, is leaves. The same is true for fruit trees; it is important to prune excess branches off of fruit trees so they can shift their energy into growing the fruit rather than just using all of their growth energy into growing new branches.

The same principle applies to us as we write books. We need to prune our writing in order to produce the best fruit in the form of our book. The leaner our writing can get, the more likely it is that our readers won’t have to use most of their thinking energy merely to understand what we are saying, but if they can easily understand what we are saying, they can instead focus their energy on applying it to their lives. That’s how ideas actually take root and bear fruit in readers’ lives, which is what all of us want as authors. It’s why we write our books in the first place, to help our readers make real change.

So, what does pruning look like? Perhaps the best word for pruning is revising. This might be when you consider bringing in a writing coach or an editor to help you compare the current state of your manuscript to the initial image you had for your idea in the first place, and help you determine where and what to prune.  But if you have a clear vision of that central image for your book, you can absolutely do your own pruning. Here’s how: when your draft is complete, simply take a bit of time away from it, get the image of your core idea clear in your mind, and return to your manuscript, reading it through with this core image in mind. Check to make sure it is coherent with that image and takes your readers on a clear journey from where you know they are starting, to where it is that you want them to be.

Now, you may realize that you are too close to your work and can’t see the forest for the trees. That’s when a developmental editor or writing coach can be very helpful in your revision process and make sure you are staying true to your initial vision.

So that is the role of pruning: to cut off the excess prose that is straying from the central image of your book so that it can bear fruit in the lives of your readers.

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