9 rules for ruthless editing

David Mamet, playwright and executive producer of the CBS drama “The Unit,” sent a memo to the show’s writers that you can apply to pare the waste out of your own content.

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No one wants to write dull, lifeless lines that lull even the most hyperkinetic people to sleep. Certainly not you, right?

But why do we find it so hard to write what we want to say in the least amount of words—and still maintain potency?

It’s not easy because we tend to fall in love with what we write. We fear cutting out anything important. No matter how dead it is.

How do we distinguish between the living words and the dead? How do we separate the enticing sentences from the repulsive ones?

It’s almost like we need someone to get in our faces and tell us like it is.

David Mamet, executive producer of the CBS drama “The Unit,” wrote an all-caps memo to the show’s stable of writers shortly before the show was canceled.

It’s a masterpiece on how to write “genuine drama.” And cut dead weight.

“The audience will only tune in and stay tuned to watch drama.”

What is drama? It’s “the quest of the hero to overcome those things which prevent him from achieving a specific acute goal.”

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