Last time I talked about The Artful Edit by Susan Bell, I mentioned that she divides editing into two main components, the macro- and micro-edit, and that many writers prefer and are stronger in one than the other. I'm a micro-editor, as is Bell, as was F. Scott Fitzgerald, the author she profiles in much of her book. Hey, not bad company to be in. :)
What might be a reason to prefer the micro-edit? Maybe the way Bell chooses to begin that section of her book sheds some light. She quotes novelist John O'Hara as saying, "I read slowly, because when I read . . . I am intently busy."
Can I just stop here and sigh and take that in?
Micro-editing, Bell agrees, thrives on the ability to read slowly. Then she adds something that can't help but make me nod: " . . . reading as slowly as O'Hara did in 1959 was easier then than now . . . . To read slowly today is not just unfashionable but nearly impossible. We are in a permanent hurry . . ."
What do you think? Do you agree? How does your busyness affect your reading and vice-versa?
Under headings such as Language, Repetition, Clarity, Transitions and more, Bell gives specific advice such as cut cliches, watch present participles, recognize and vary pet words and phrases. She talks about how every single a, and, the has an effect, using this example:
Jane walked the dog.
Jane and the dog went for a walk.
Such simple sentences with simple words, yet they give different impressions. In the first sentence, Jane is in charge. In the second, Jane and the dog are equals.
I love this sort of thing. Layers of meaning at the micro level just blow me away. :)