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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

So Much For Hiatus

Guess that cooling off period for "Dabblers" did not last the "few days" mentioned in my last post. For a while now, I kept getting the sinking feeling that the manuscript was too long at almost 85,000 words. Then today's post on my publisher's blog solidified the feeling. In an email question about length, someone asked about a manuscript over 100,000 words, and in response, she mentioned that 80,000 is about as much as POD publishing can handle.

Back to the "Dabblers" manuscript with my editorial hat firmly in place. I started deleting unimportant stuff. Granted, it's sometimes hard to decide what to leave in and what to leave out. Some things that may not seem crucial to moving the story forward are there merely to set the scene for the reader, make it more real. While it's fun for me as a writer to invent details and make word pictures, too much "stuff" slows the pace. I found passages that were well written and necessary to the earlier incarnation of the manuscript, but now they are not necessary. Sort of like a woman wearing too many accessories--the details begin to overwhelm the outfit.

Also in the back of my mind are words from editor Bobbye Christmas in her book "Write In Style." Sometimes a writer must "kill your babies," those nicely written, highly descriptive passages that don't do anything except impress the reader. If it lays groundwork for future scene, keep it. If it provides a discrete clue, keep it (but maybe shorten it). If it develops a character, keep it (but maybe shorten it). As an example from "Dabblers," I realized that because I originally wrote it while on my lunch break, it seemed to focus on food a little too much, with descriptions of what Stefanie was having for lunch or planning a menu. Fun stuff to make up but unnecessary to the story. Save imaginative descriptions for something that matters.

So slashing away, I've already trimmed almost 2,500 words. Whole paragraphs gone. I'm also going to look for bits of conversation that can be dropped; for instance, sign offs from phone conversations or greetings when people meet. At Chapter 9 out of 21, I think I'll be getting beneath that 80,000 word threshold pretty quick.

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