Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Advice on word count

In my recent struggle with my ever growing word count - which I think will top out at 160k for this draft before I start cutting back - I decided to email one of the editors I worked with at BONI. I thought her advice was interesting, and something that might help others trying to trim that final draft.

I'd advise you to not worry about it right this minute, to finish it all up and then let it sit for just a bit. Then go back in and first edit for larger story issues, asking yourself what, if anything, you can remove in terms of CONTENT. Are there scenes that don't quite further the action of the story or that play out at much the same emotional "temperature" as immediately preceding or following scenes? Be tough and ask, "WILL THE READER MISS THIS?" Not, of course, whether or not YOU'LL miss it because you clearly might but whether or not the reader's experience will be significantly diminished without that scene.

THEN, after you've done that larger scale edit, I'd go back through and do the "house cleaning" line edit, looking for redundancies, etc. I think you'll be surprised how much fat you can trim away without hurting the story. In fact, often doing so makes things sharper and more resonant.

With just a few minutes spent thinking about her advice, I came up with three places where I should be able to cut scenes. I hope they are many, many words. :)

1 comment:

Tara Maya said...

Word count is such a bugaboo. I will keep that advice in mind. I am certain to need it.