I wrote what I thought was a pretty funny theater review this morning. It took me two and a half hours to finish the first draft and an hour to polish it. I spent most of that last hour cutting 120 words out of my 1,070-word first draft. None of the cuts was longer than a single sentence–it was mostly a matter of trimming individual words and phrases. The first draft contained all the jokes that made it into the final version I e-mailed to my editor, but they were much funnier when I was done.
To the extent that I have a reputation for being funny (though only on paper, alas), it’s probably because I take such pains to trim away superfluous verbiage from my best lines. Wit, I suspect, is mostly a matter of self-editing ….
Read the whole thing here.