Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Trimming the Fat

This photo is part of the Glove on the Head Series.
Hey, I've got to put something on here.

The Objective

Nope, I'm not talking about a diet. I've been spending the last few weeks trying to cut my Dragon Bait manuscript down from a 75k word manuscript to something a little more lean. You see, I was told that my book feels a lot more like a middle grade manuscript than a YA manuscript, and I've recently started to agree. The problem is that 75k is too long for a MG manuscript, and I like most of the chapter's I've got. They build character and add tension and contribute to the plot, and all those kinda important things.

The Method

So I've been going through, page by page, cutting out unnecessary words, phrases, and sentences, and, oh joy of joys, sometimes whole paragraphs! (Those times are pretty exciting, although also quite rare).

An Example

This might not be the best example, but I just picked out a sentence at random and gave it a trim so you can hopefully see what I mean.

  • Old Sentence: "Somehow I managed to convince myself that I had to go to the station, no matter how much I never wanted to set foot in that place again." 28 words
  • New, Sleek Sentence: "Somehow I convinced myself to go back to the station even though I never wanted to set foot in that place again." 22 words

See? I just cut 6 words! Obviously not every sentence can be trimmed down like this, and I think you can imagine what a long and tedious process this is, but it has the added benefit of making the book nicer to read. The real shock is how many words I've managed to cut just by doing this sort of thing.

The Result

You ready for this?? (Yes, I'm pretending you're excited by my decreasing word count). So far, I've gone from 75k words down to 69k words, and I've still got quite a few chapters to go. I'm going to feel much better about querying a MG book that has a word count in the 60,000's than one in the 70,000's, so yea for me!

P.S. For anyone who was wondering, my Very Important Work Meeting went quite well!

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