Quotations about   editing

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Hasten slowly, and without losing heart,
Put your work twenty times upon the anvil.

[Hâtez-vous lentement ; et, sans perdre courage,
Vingt fois sur le métier remettez votre ouvrage.]

Boileau - twenty times upon the anvil - wist_info quote

Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux (1636-1711) French poet and critic
The Art of Poetry [L’Art Poétique], Canto 1, l. 171 (1674)
Added on 11-May-16 | Last updated 11-May-16
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There’s a great power in words, if you don’t hitch too many of them together.

Josh Billings (1818-1885) American humorist [pseud. of Henry Wheeler Shaw]
(Attributed)

Quoted in Donald Day, Uncle Sam's Uncle Josh (1972 ed., 1st pub. 1953).
Added on 1-Apr-16 | Last updated 1-Apr-16
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Remember that, sooner or later, before it ever reaches perfection, you will have to let it go and move on and start to write the next thing. Perfection is like chasing the horizon. Keep moving.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
In “Ten Rules for Writing Fiction,” The Guardian (20 Feb 2010)
    (Source)
Added on 14-Aug-14 | Last updated 14-Aug-14
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If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.

Elmore Leonard (1925-2013) American novelist and screenwriter
In Newsweek (22 Apr 1985)
Added on 22-May-14 | Last updated 22-May-14
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You can never read your own book with the innocent anticipation that comes with that first delicious page of a new book, because you wrote the thing. You’ve been backstage. You’ve seen how the rabbits were smuggled into the hat. Therefore ask a reading friend or two to look at it before you give it to anyone in the publishing business. This friend should not be someone with whom you have a romantic relationship, unless you want to break up.

Margaret Atwood (b. 1939) Canadian writer, literary critic, environmental activist
In “Ten Rules for Writing Fiction,” The Guardian (20 Feb 2010)
    (Source)
Added on 6-Mar-14 | Last updated 6-Mar-14
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Rewriting is like scrubbing the basement floor with a toothbrush.

Other Authors and Sources
Pete Murphy
Added on 25-Feb-14 | Last updated 25-Feb-14
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You don’t always have to go so far as to murder your darlings — those turns of phrase or images of which you felt extra proud when they appeared on the page — but go back and look at them with a very beady eye. Almost always it turns out that they’d be better dead. (Not every little twinge of satisfaction is suspect — it’s the ones which amount to a sort of smug glee you must watch out for.)

Diana Athill (b. 1917) British literary editor, novelist, memoirist
In “Ten Rules for Writing Fiction,” The Guardian (20 Feb 2010)
    (Source)

See Quiller-Couch.
Added on 20-Feb-14 | Last updated 6-Mar-14
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Substitute “damn” every time you’re inclined to write “very”; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
(Attributed)
Added on 2-Jul-12 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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A work is perfectly finished only when nothing can be added to it and nothing taken away.

Joseph Joubert (1754-1824) French moralist
Pensées, #1809 (1838) [tr. Auster (1983)]
Added on 13-Jan-12 | Last updated 13-May-16
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I have only made this [letter] longer, because I have not had the time to make it shorter.

[Je n’ai fait celle-ci plus longue que parce que je n’ai pas eu le loisir de la faire plus courte.]

Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) French scientist and philosopher
Lettres provinciales, #16 (1657)

Alt. trans.: "The present letter is a very long one, simply because I had no leisure to make it shorter."Sometimes attributed to Ben Franklin or Mark Twain. For more information see here.
Added on 5-Apr-10 | Last updated 3-Mar-14
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