Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Literary Liposuction

(Which I thought was a terribly clever and original phrase, but when I Googled it, I discovered that while it is terribly clever, it ain't original. Not surprising. There are a lot of terribly clever writers around.)

I'm continuing to snip and trim and tighten up the prose in Time and the Soldier. I decided that "murdering your darlings" isn't really appropriate for what I'm doing. Some of what I'm cutting out is indeed material that I thought was really good stuff when I wrote it, but most of it is extraneous words and phrases junking up my prose. I've always found a lot of that when proofreading my own writing, which is distressing, because I'd have thought that, by now, even my first drafts would be more tightly. Still, there it is. Extraneous junk. It dilutes and weakens and obscures sentences rather than enhancing them, and when I'm proofreading I always wonder why I thought it was such a good idea to include that unnecessary crap in the first place.

I used to think of this process as trimming the fat. But that applies to, say, cuts of meat - steaks, chops. A book ms. is a living thing. It's horrible to think of using a sharp knife and cutting fat off it!

No, instead one is carefully extracting that unhealthy, soft, wiggly, pudgy, obscuring excess so that the true lean, hard, shapely, healthy, active being is freed and exposed. Hence, literary liposuction.

It's much better than real liposuction. There's no question of medical danger, it's not likely that the ms. will be left with weird dimples in strange places, and, most of all, one is not left with giant tubs of horrifying, bloody fat.

I mean, insanguinated lipogenous tissue. (I made that up, but it sounds about right.)


Chris said...

Insanguinated lipogenous tissue removed. Here book.

David said...

Lipo! Book no longer sucks!

Um, on second thought, it would probably be better to leave that out.