Well, I have almost reached the end of my current WIP. I wrote the black moment yesterday and now have only to write the resolution and I can finally type “The End.” I’m so excited I’m beside myself. I have struggled with this one. I have a file I’ve kept all the things I’ve written for this book that never actually made it in to the book and it’s nearly as long as the book itself. Mostly stuff I “had” to write. You know that feeling, the one that sends you running to your computer to write something down and it flows off the tips of your fingers like it’s being channeled from someone else? Yeah, that feeling. I have pages and pages of that stuff that just didn’t fit into this book. I’ve also written some scenes twice, because my characters refused to tell me which way it was supposed to go. In fact, I have an entire second version of this manuscript that veered off in another direction before I realized that direction didn’t work with my original "vision" for this book and had to rein it in, backtrack and revise mid story.
Some day I want to send this to Silhouette Special Edition. The problem is, that it’s currently at 64K right now, and I still have the resolution to write. So it will likely end up being 66K by the time I’m finished.
Which means that I had to seriously ponder cutting back my baby. I cringed and thought, “Well, maybe I’ll skip HQ with this one and just send it to TWRP,” but no, I can’t do that. I have to try HQ first. It’s that rung I’m not sure I’ll ever reach, but I can’t allow myself to stop trying for. Because if you ask me, if you don't make the attempt, you’ll never know how high you can actually go.
So, I went online looking for tips on how to cut back. I also went to the HQ forums and asked for opinions. Here are some of the tips I found and/or received:
Simplify lengthy prose. Go through your manuscript and look for places where your descriptions are wordy. Find a way to say the same thing with fewer words. I’m famous for this, for taking the long route to say something really simple.
Are you starting the book in the right place? Can you start the story later and fill in those old scenes as backstory?
Do your scenes start and end in the right place? One of the ladies on the HQ forum suggested that sometimes we write in details that aren’t always necessary. She said to look for extraneous details at the beginning and ending of each scenes. Are you starting a scene too early? Ending one too late?
Look for scenes that do only one or two things. Make sure each and every scene accomplishes at least three things: advance the plot, reveal character, and increase the conflict. Are all of your scenes serving more than one purpose? Are there any scenes that do separate tasks that you could combine together to make the scene do double duty? Ellen Hartman told me she had to do revisions on a manuscript and that she had several scenes with the hero but without the heroine that she’d written purely for informational purposes. In the end, she cut out one character and combined a couple of scenes and characters into one scene.
Which got me to thinking about my manuscript. I have several scenes with either the hero or heroine with their confidantes, that didn’t really reveal anything that wasn’t re-stated via internal monologue in a follow-up scene (there’s a word for this I’m forgetting at the moment. Sequel I think?). Cutting those scenes and leaving the information to the internal monologues ended up cutting out those 5000 words I needed to lose. And I’m fairly certain the story doesn’t lose anything because of it.
But that still leaves me questioning. Those scenes I cut are actually better “show”. They add a more “rounded” feel to the manuscript. I actually really liked these scenes and I hated having to cut them. Which again, means I’ll have to be sure to send this ‘gutted’ version through my CP’s, to be sure I’m truly not losing anything.
So, I now have yet another version of this story. Should HQ turn down this one, I still have the original, ungutted version I plan to send to TWRP.
Have you ever had to cut back a manuscript? Do you have any tips you could share?