Giving it the sidelong glance

Posted January 11th, 2013 by Devin and filed in Modeling, Review, Writing

I recently acquired a copy of Ken Rand’s “The 10% Solution” and ran a couple of pieces of writing through the process.  The premise is simple: nearly everyone can run through a piece of work and cut it by 10%,  in the process making it sharper, more concise, and easier to understand.

The first revelation is that I had no idea how often I use “of” in my writing.  I mean a lot.  A whole bunch of “ofs”.  That and the always prevelant “and”, “was”, and “were” jumped out at me as I ran through the process in the book.  The interesting bit came when the process didn’t simply result in deleting words, but recasting entire sentences and paragraphs when those issues are called to attention, and how the resulting product is so much the better.

I’ve always taken the “walk away” approach to writing and other projects — such as model building, computer issues, etc. — in that I’ll finish something, or stop in-process, and just walk away from it for a while.  The most recent example is the IMG_4273X-Wing model I finished this past weekend.  I actually “completed” the model last month, but I left it in the spray booth, sealed up, and every now and then, usually once a day, I’d open up the booth and look at it, see if anything jumped out at me as “not quite right”.  Sometimes, before I’d seal it back up, I’d rotate the model, so that the next time I opened booth, I’d be confronted with a different angle and perspective.  Over the course of a few weeks, this lead me to finding paint imperfections in the canopy, a spot on the upper port wing that wasn’t finished consistent with the rest of the model, and adding more weathering.

In the past I’ve put writing projects away in the proverbial spray-booth for months at a time.  What I’ve found with “The 10% Solution” is that by doing a syllable by syllable search through a story, forcing myself to see not the entire piece, but the tiny parts that make up the whole, it takes my writing and gives it that little twist, a different angle of light and shadow, showing the defects more quickly than letting it ferment and simmer for an extended period of time.

If you haven’t tried it, I recommend giving the “The 10% Solution” a look.

Leave a Reply