Editing in Nightmare

I cut out too much of the story while writing this. I was trying to keep it short, to fit the story into a cramped 200,000 words, with an injunction from my editor that it would be better if I could bring it in at about 150,000 words. (This is not my editor being evil. This is a fact of life necessitated by publishing constraints, by the cost of paper and other goodies, by the fact that a price point over $25 for a hardcover guarantees a measurable drop in sales. The book needs to be shorter because it needs to be shorter. But the story needs to be longer.)

I’m discovering that in writing shorter, I’ve shortchanged the main story, shortchanged the characters, left the action to the side. The scenes I have in there at this point aren’t bad. But, dammit, they’re bones without meat or sinew to hold them together, and they aren’t holding together. They aren’t living. I wanted, in editing this, to cut it down. Cutting won’t fix the book. It needs to be longer, and making it longer is going to cause problems for my editor.

I’m not even to the halfway point on this day’s pages, and I’ve already found seven places where I have to have, at bare minimum, one additional scene in order to make the narrative coherent. And adding pages is not going to make anyone happy. This is miserable work.

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About the author: Novelist, writing teacher, on a mission to reprint my out-of-print books and indie-publish my new ones.


7 comments… add one
  • hollylisle Sep 7, 2005 @ 20:40

    I’m not willing to go with two books — it’s one story with no good break-point in the middle. It would end on a cliffhanger, leaving readers who pay hardcover prices waiting a year or so for volume II, and being pissed for not getting a full book for their money. I don’t want to do that. To be fair to my readers, I have to bring it in in one volume.

  • TinaK Sep 7, 2005 @ 20:13

    Oh, what a tough spot you are in. Sounds like you might get 2 books out of it. Good luck.

  • tambo Sep 7, 2005 @ 17:34

    I feel your pain. I have a 165k ceiling and it’s a bitch. {hugggg}

    You’ll get it.

  • Mezzanine Sep 7, 2005 @ 16:53

    Not a nice thing to have to do. Good luck!

  • Linda Sep 7, 2005 @ 15:26

    {{{hugs}}}, Holly. I hope the book wins in the end. 🙂

  • MotherNox713 Sep 7, 2005 @ 13:35

    Can you not split it into two books? I am admittedly on the stupid side when it comes to publishing… I’d just hate to see good subplot and necessary scenes die because of publishing costs.

  • PolarBear Sep 7, 2005 @ 12:09

    Damn supermodel novels. You’ll get some healthy meat on ‘er bones. Hang in there.

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