FIVE WAYS CUTTING CAN IMPROVE YOUR NOVEL
“I believe more in the scissors than I do in the pencil.”—Truman Capote
My first novel came in at more than 100,000 words. After editing, it went down to 93k. After it’s final proofing, it lost another 300 words. Painful? You bet!
But what I’ve come to realize, is without exception, anything I’ve sliced and diced has become a much more polished work.
Tightening and trimming can be a difficult lesson, but after my second novel was edited, I actually had to add a few things.
Things I learned the hard way:
1. If you’re writing fiction, there is only so much the reader wants to know about technical issues, and, in general, background information about geography, art, science, whatever. Unless it’s vital to the story line, ( and sometimes even then ) you should keep it brief. Avoid the self-indulgence of overloading the reader with your own knowledge of a topic.
2. Backstory. As a reader, I hate it. I don’t tolerate excess, and will skip over it and only check to make sure I’m not missing anything germane to the story. When adding backstory that is necessary, try to intersperse it where it’s relevant rather than dumping it on the reader all at one time. When fine-tuning your manuscript, remember when it comes to backstory, succinct wins over wordy.
3. Check and double check for repetitions. Occasionally the reader does need to be reminded of something that happened a few chapters ago, but unnecessary repetition is annoying. Cut it.
4. Run-on character descriptions. Like backstory, keep descriptions short, and break up details of the description with dialogue or action. Better yet, have your characters' actions describe something about his appearance.
5. Dialogue – Leave out any that’s unnecessary. The reader doesn’t want to hear small talk! Break up any long speech with details about the speaker or the listener.
I enjoy hearing all of your comments. Please share your own experiences with cutting your work. If you’re reading this in a climate like Wisconsin, stay warm! I advise curling up with a warm cat, a cozy throw, a glass of wine and a good book.
Thanks for visiting,