Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The First Cut Is The Deepest....

So, as reported, I got a request from a publisher who shall remain nameless.

I knew when I queried them, my manuscript was longer than they allow. I also knew they don’t permit graphic sex scenes. No problem—I could use the extra word count, plus, as my dad said, “You mean I’ll be able to read it?” Yeah, bonus.

Anyway, so this weekend I started hacking. First off, I realized my book was 10,000 words longer than I’d remembered. For you nonwriters, that translates to forty manuscript pages. Bottom line, I needed to cut about 100 pages, or a fourth of the book. A lot more than I’d anticipated.

I thought yeah, right. Impossible.

Then I got a tip from a writing partner. Get rid of instances where a line on the page contains only one or two words. Likewise, when a page contains the last couple sentences of a chapter. So I’ve been going over the manuscript, paragraph by paragraph, and guess what? I’ve lopped off about a “page” or two per chapter. At this point, I’m guessing that by the time I finish this part of the process, I’ll have reduced the manuscript by fifty pages.

So where am I gonna find the other fifty?

Should I even try? Part of me says: If the story you wanted to tell took 400 pages, so be it. At 300 pages, it’s not the same story.

Maybe so. Maybe that’s a lesson I need to learn.

What scares me even more is how poorly I’d edited this manuscript to begin with. I mean, I truly thought I’d polished it to a sheen. And as I’ve gone over each paragraph with a fine tooth comb, looking to see what I could cut, I’ve found dozens of unnecessary words, repeated concepts, banal conversation…yikes.

So even if this submission disappears into that vast wasteland of publishing house limbo, my writing will have improved.

That’s the important thing to remember during this agonizing process.

1 comment:

Vonda said...

Hey Randy, Best of luck with the revision and submission!