I’ve spent the weekend editing chapter two of Luk and Emma’s story.
Started with 11,657 words, two chapters in my mess of a first draft, that I needed to get down to 5,000, tops.
Sixteen hours of work later, I still have 6,458 words!
I don’t know where the hell the word count is coming from!
I cut a whole sequence that had a couple of good lines in it, but slowed the pacing, as the characters weren’t together. She was sending him sweet chatty emails telling him all she was doing, and he was getting all distracted and hot and bothered, which is always a good thing. But it had to go.
I dropped the secondary character of Mari, the hero’s sister, as I have a cast of thousands and her role can be played by someone else.
Took out the makeover (this was only the semi-makeover anyway, the real Cinderella transformation comes in the next chapter when he sees her at the ball, so I’d thought maybe I should ditch this one anyway, as it detracts from the later scene).
And I still have nearly 6,500 words.
It’s just that some of them are now different words.
Arrrrgghhhh! I’m having fun here, don’t get me wrong. But Cinderella can’t go to the ball ’til I get this word count fixed!
Worrying. I see a lot about all the stuff I know I still need to layer into the story, not about how to decide what to leave out.
I think the way Melissa James writes is closest to how I seem to do it. I guess I’m at her stage 4 now.
I cut tags and adverbs, and scenes or passages I might love but serve no purpose for the ultimate storyline. This is my ruthless draft. I cut it, hack at it—savage it, if you will. I look at my ms as an editor would: Does that passage make sense, or only to me? Uh duh, I’ve repeated myself here again! Cut that scene out! Take that paragraph out! Add something with real meaning, girl! In other words, I talk to myself like a fool all the time, trying NOT to be me, but someone who HATES my work, wants to tear it down and destroy it. I usually lose at least 25 pages this way, but when I’ve finished, the work is taut, tight, fast-paced and much, much stronger. Then I have more space to put in stuff with real meaning!
But what if I feel I’ve already done that and I still have too many words? I need to go back and do it again.
Find the repetitions. Find the adjective/noun and adverb/verb combos that can be changed to a single stronger word. Find whole chunks that can be cut without damaging the story, no matter how much I like them.
What I’ve done so far was the easy part.
It’s rip and burn time, baby.