>Word Surgery

>Recently I was asked to write an article for a publication and, when I inquired about word count, I was told that any length would be fine. I submitted an article of 1,200 words.

Having a lot of experience editing newsletters, I suspected that the editor would change her mind about word count when she tried to fit the article into the available space. Sure enough, she contacted me later and asked me to cut it down to 600 words.

There was a time when I would have panicked at such a request, but no more. Lately I’ve had a lot of practice performing word surgery.

I often cut down articles I’ve written, sometimes nearly in half. And I’ve spent the last few months editing a book of theology to about half its original length. That was definitely the biggest challenge of my editing career.

So editing my 1,200-word article down to 600 words didn’t intimidate me. I hardened my mind and sharpened my scalpel.

It’s tough to see beloved words, phrases, or even whole paragraphs excised. But undergoing the knife generally produces a leaner and healthier result.

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