You are the first editor of your writing. Yes, you are the first editor.
You are the writer, too. You wrote with both sides of your brain.
The right artistic side helped you add touches of your personal perception.
The left analytical side made sure you gave all details your readers will need to understand what you wrote.
Now the left side must do all of the heavy lifting.
Drop your right-brained writer hat into a desk drawer and close it.
Your analytical left brain is in charge.
The first question your analytical brain should ask:
Is this writing clear? Is it good enough?
Will your readers understand what you saw and heard?
Will it be clear to them?
Long-time editor Roger Angell at The New Yorker magazine always asked himself: Does it say what I wanted it to say? Does it sound right?
Does it carry the tone that I want my readers to pick up right here?
Is it, just possibly, too short? Or too long?
“Some distinguished editors have forsworn most such meddling,” Angell said, “on the theory that the writer almost always knows best.
"My own instincts lean the other way, for the obligation to preserve the sanctity of a neophyte’s script is counterbalanced by my hope that he will, by habit, come to ask himself those short, tough questions as he writes along, never omitting the big question at the end:
“Is it good enough? Is it any good at all?”
The best writers, Angell said, ask themselves this every day.
That’s why they look the way they do, hunched over their word processors or at the bar next door, like morticians with the remains of the dearly beloved.
“Is it any good at all?”
Next: Closing your stories
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