Giants in the field of how to write well recommend brutal editing of ones own text; often said as: “murder your darlings”. The advice is sound. A rule of thumb may be that one should have half the words left of the original draft.
Some key points:
- Cut any parts that do not support the focus of the story
- Cut the weakest quotations, anecdotes, points, to give more power to the strongest
- Cut any passage you have written to avoid improving the flow of preceeding writing
- Cut yourself, no-one understands your point better than you do.
One of my favourite chapters from “writing tools” (linked before) shows how even an expert can edit a text, despite it haveing been revised a dozen time before. I suggest you read the chapter; it is only a few pages.. and then read the second version of it, where you can see what has been cut, and just how much better it became because of it.
Download the chapter (it is only a couple of pages) here: Cut Big Then Small
There are many more pieces of advice and things to consider, and three books that have helped me, are easy to read, and which I go back to are:
Clark, Roy Peter; Paperback
Zinsser, William; Paperback
And a short form blogpost on this:
There are plenty of folks happy to tell you how to write better, just as any doctor will tell you to “eat right and exercise.” But changing your writing (or eating) habits only happens when you understand why you do what you do. I can help you with that.