Saturday, January 2, 2010

It's not that I never blog...

...I've just been busy lately. Beyond the normal sick kids/sick hubby, regular life and holidays stuff--I've actually also been an author. I spent two years rewriting and polishing and making beautiful my masterpiece before sending it off to 4 local publishers. Every one rejected me. It's great, but they don't have room for it. One publisher, however, rejected it because of the length. Ok, 114,000 words is a lot. I didn't mean to create a monster, but it's just so good. The publisher suggested I trim it down to fit their printing size--under 300 pages. At first I was aghast. I mean, really. Never thought I'd actually use that word to describe what I felt, but there you are.

How on earth do I take a 440 page masterpiece and cut it down by over 25%? How do you do that? I don't have that kind of talent. How's this: let's just split it and make 2 books. And I agonized about cutting out crucial plot elements, what I was sacrificing for my art, what of my art I would sacrifice to get published, etc.

Nothing. For weeks. I figured their editor email was a one-way communication. But then, just before Christmas, I hear from them again.

They've read on. They really like it, but they don't feel the plot resolves well enough at the end of chap 22 to make a stand alone book. How am I coming with the trimming? Can I get it in under 300 pages?

So, like any other author would do, I sharpened my scalpel, scissors, razor and wit and got to work. You wouldn't believe this (came as a great shock to me), but in about 4 chapters of my masterpiece ABSOLUTELY NOTHING HAPPENS TO FURTHER THE PLOT, SUBPLOT OR CHARACTER DESIGN. I mean, stuff happens, but nothing crucial to the development of the story. I condensed almost 5 chapters into about a page or two.

That felt really, really good. Wait, I can actually cut stuff out and it doesn't hurt the story? I grabbed the weed whacker and got down to it. Repetitive (slice), redundant (hack), boring (chop)--and on it went for almost two weeks. And I watched my word count reduce in wonder. My page numbers went down. It was magical.

The manuscript currently stands at 81,018 words (weird, huh?) and is 295 pages long. Being a practical, logical person I want to trim it down a bit more, maybe another 10-15 pages, for wiggle room during the editing stages.

That's if, after all this, the publisher signs me. :)


Rebecca Irvine said...

It always feels good to lighten a load. Good work!

Kimberly Job said...

Wow! I'm impressed. At the request of my publisher, I had to add 20,000 words, but it definitely made my story stronger. I hope you get good news from the publisher.

Mary Gray said...

Ooo! I'm so excited for you! My novel started at 90k and I cut it to 60k after my publisher signed with me... nice to know I'm not the only one who was "aghast" by such a mission. :) Can't wait to hear if they accept you!! *crossing fingers*

Don said...

The publisher I'm working with asked me to add, although they didn't specify quantity. I went from 79,000 to 99,000. I'm hoping to trim that down to right about 90,000 by the time I resubmit - but it's not going to be easy.

Cheri Chesley said...

Thanks for all the comments! It's funny how some publishers want more from a story, others need less, etc. But I'm optimistic. At least today :)