The 10% Solution: Self-editing for the Modern Writer
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by Ken Rand
Description: A short, quick, easy-to-use handbook to help new and advanced writers of fiction and nonfiction, any genre or length, write better. Writers will see quantifiable results instantly.
eBook Publisher: Fictionwise.com, 1998 Fairwood Press
Filament eBookStore Release Date: December 2003
68 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [71 KB]
Reading time: 40-57 min.
All Other formats: Printing DISABLED, Read-aloud DISABLED
"You could spend a gazillion bucks patronizing the Famous Writers School. Or you could pick up Ken Rand's economical text and pay scrupulous attention. The Ten Percent Solution is the Real Thing. The Write Stuff. Ken Rand and I share a common background, so I know right where he learned his hard lessons. This little book offers no magical shortcut; but it does distill many years' professional experience and common sense. When I suspect that one of my own stories is working, it's inevitably for one or more of the reasons Ken enumerates herein. This guy knows what he's talking about. If you're a long-time successful writer, pick this up as your refresher course. If you're an ambitious novice, consider this your bible."--Edward Bryant, author of Flirting With Death
"The Ten Percent Solution is proof positive that effective books on writing need not be long or tedious. This is the best tool for writers that I've seen in many, many years. I've written fiction for thirty-five years, and taught fiction writing for twenty. During all those years I could have used The Ten Percent Solution. It would have helped me, and it would have saved my students a world of time. Ken Rand's twenty-five years of writing experience have produced a book that every writer needs. It is especially important for the writer who is still trying to break into publishing, but I would recommend it to the most experienced writers. It's a reminder that we should not get loose or sloppy."--Jack Cady, author of The Off Season.
"This little volume is a rare find and one you'll keep around for quite awhile."--Glenn White, writetoinspire.com
"It's an excellent investment ... every page packed with valuable tips for editing and revising."--Sammie Justense, thewritersroost.com
"Ken Rand ... does a good job of showing you how to strip your prose down to the basic elements. I found it a useful refresher."--Jeff Verona
"Ken Rands' ... short, no-nonsense approach to editing your own work, properly applied, will do more to make your writing appear professional than anything I've seen like it."--James Van Pelt
This book is dedicated to the memory of teacher/mentor Georgia Ann Weston to fulfill a promise I made to her 35 years ago. It could not have been written without the support and encouragement of Patrick and Honna Swenson, Dean Wesley Smith, Jack Cady, Ed Bryant, Michael and Molly Rand, Ashley Grayson, Amy Hanson and Renee Stern, but most of all, Lynne--without her nothing would be worthwhile, and with her everything is possible.
"In the spring of my senior year at Lisbon High--1966, this would've been--I got a scribbled comment that changed the way I rewrote my fiction once and forever. Jotted below the machine-generated signature of the editor was this mot: 'Not bad, but PUFFY. You need to review for length. Formula: 2nd Draft = 1st Draft--10%. Good Luck.'"--Stephen King, On Writing, pg. 222. * * * * The 10% Solution: Self-editing for the Modern Writer
Problem: your editor wants you to cut your 1,000-page novel or nonfiction book to 800 pages. Problem: an editor wants your short story, article, or essay, but you wrote 3,000 words and she wants 2,700. Problem: you get rejection slips with cryptic handwritten notes: "didn't grab me," "seemed to drag," "rambling," or words to that effect. Problem: your stuff isn't selling. Problem: you're just not writing at all.
Solution: you're holding it.
The Ten Percent Solution is an editing tool I've found useful--indispensable--for writing prose; fiction and nonfiction, any genre, any length, whether for publication or not (the process works for memos, queries, outlines and novel synopses, sales letters, papers, and essays). It can help any writer, newbie or pro, make whatever she or he writes more accurate, more clear and crisp, more vivid, more compelling, sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, chapter by chapter. Whatever you have to say, you'll say better with The Ten Percent Solution.
If you're trying to sell your prose, it can help you sell sooner, more often, for more money, and to bigger markets.
If you think you're a slow writer, it can help you write faster.
If you suffer from writer's block, it can help you become more productive, resulting in fewer false starts and more stories or articles finished.
Big claims for a small book.
I use The Ten Percent Solution daily and I back my claims for its efficacy with more than thirty years experience as a freelance writer, staff writer and copywriter for radio, newspapers, newsletters, magazines, advertisers and news networks; as an editor for newspapers, magazines, and newsletters; as a reporter for radio stations, newspapers, and news networks; as a PR flack for politicians, daredevil shows, and government agencies, and as an announcer and PR flack for stockcar races, daredevil shows, mudbogs, air shows, and sports events. I've written more than a hundred short stories, a dozen novels, two hundred humor columns, scores of interviews and thousands of articles.
Some things The Ten Percent Solution can't do. It doesn't address concepts like character, theme, plot, structure and so on. You'll have to look elsewhere to master those concepts. I assume you have, or are trying to.
It also doesn't apply to poetry or to film, stage, or radio scripts. The reason should become clear as you read on.
I took years to develop this technique, but you don't have to take as long. You don't have to be a reporter, PR flack, copywriter, or ad peddler to learn how to use it.
In fact, as soon as you finish this book, you can try the process on your own writing, test its usefulness against your own needs and desires. Read the whole book through before you try to use the techniques described.
Most writers can get something from the process, some more than others. Newbies can get something because they haven't yet been brainwashed with a zillion versions of "The One True Way," so they're more open to possibilities. Old pros can get something out of it because they know writing school is never out. There's always something more to learn. It's one of the fun things about this business. Who knows where the next lesson will come from or how valuable it might be?
Still, I expect nobody will use it entirely. Some will use 90 percent, others maybe ten percent.
The Ten Percent Solution isn't meant to be gospel. It's not written in stone. In fact, I modify it for my own use from time to time, and I'll probably do so again. It's a tool, not a school. It's modular. You adapt the process to your own methods, style, and goals and you adjust it from project to project. Use what you want, discard the rest. Customize it.
This is a "how-to" book, a practical work manual. Theory supports practice, so the book is divided into two sections, theory and practice, to help you better understand how the two aspects relate. Theory comes first.