By Roy Peter Clark ... Begin by cutting the big stuff. Donald Murray taught me that "brevity comes from selection, not compression." That requires lifting whole parts from the work... If your goal is to achieve precision and concision, begin by pruning the big limbs. You can shake out the dead leaves later. * Cut any passage that does not support the focus of the story. * Cut the weakest quotations, anecdotes, or scenes to give greater power to the strongest. * Cut any passage you have written just to avoid prosecutorial editing. * Don't invite editors to cut. You know the story better. Mark "optional trims." Should they become actual cuts? ... Here are some targets for cuts. Look for: 1. Adverbs that intensify rather than modify: just, certainly, entirely, extremely, completely, exactly. 2. Prepositional phrases that repeat the obvious: in the story, in the article, in the movie, in the city. 3. Phrases that grow on verbs: seems to, tends to, should have to, tries to. 4. Abstract nouns that contain active verbs: consideration becomes considers; judgment becomes judges; observation becomes observes. 5. Restatements: a sultry, humid afternoon. http://www.poynter.org/content/content_view.asp?id=74825

source: Writing Tool #34, Cut Big, Then Small tags: Writing