Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Killing Two Birds with One Stone

I don't especially like the phrase killing two birds with one stone, but I don't know any other way to describe this post. I love birds. I have feeders and suet out on my deck and enjoy watching the chickadees and goldfinches. I cringe if my cat brings us a 'present' from one of his hunting escapades.

Since May, I've been working on tightening the writing to my newest novel. By doing so, I'm also bringing the word count down. In May the book was 110,000. As of today I've brought it down to 101,000 words, cutting out 13,000 unnecessary words and phrases since I finished the first draft a year and a half ago. I've caught some redundancies and erased them. I'm hoping to finish up by next week, and then begin submissions. Hello, agents!

When I first began to write, cutting words, especially whole sentences or paragraphs, was hard to do. I could not let go of my beautiful prose. Thank God I grew out of that phase. Now all I want is to have a fantastic novel without all the fat. My long-time friend visited me today and asked how the writing was going. I explained and went on about word count. She said, "Ah, that's why so many books have a lot of fluff. I hate fluff."

First word to the wise. Listen to what readers say regarding their likes and dislikes when it comes to the novels they read. My friend likes page-turners. So do I, and honestly I'm having a hard time getting my hands on a page-turning historical...you know, the kind you can't put down. Recommendations are welcomed.

Second word to the wise. Don't be afraid to edit your work, and bring the word count down. In doing so you will have a novel that moves at a faster pace, that draws readers in. In the case of writing, bigger is not always better.


Georgie said...

If you enjoy historical page turners you might enjoy the Ursula Blanchard series by Fiona Buckley. Ursula is a lady in waiting to Elizabeth I and a spy. I also enjoyed Amanda Quick's Tobias March and Lavinia Lake trilogy. The first novel is "Slightly Shady". It's a Regency trilogy with a lot of mystery.

Chiron said...

Oh, yes, that phrase bothers me two. *nodding* And ever since I found out the origin of the phrase "rule of thumb" (meaning, a man could not beat his wife with a rod bigger than his thumb) I stopped using that one as well. Yikes!

I had to laugh at this:

When I first began to write, cutting words, especially whole sentences or paragraphs, was hard to do. I could not let go of my beautiful prose.

In the beginning, we're still in such awe over the magic that is writing. My goodness!! It's breathtaking and the idea of tossing out anything at all is bone-chilling. Horrors! *grin* I created my first "cuttings" file to place all those precious bits, "just in case."

Now of course, I slash and burn without remorse. *heh-heh*

Congrats on some fearsome editing, woman! Good luck with the submissions.


Eileen Astels Watson said...

Cutting words is the equivalent to "writing tight", and I believe that has a lot to do with "staying focused". If we add a lot of "fluff" and meander due to lack of focus on our scene goal then our writing has a tendency to become "boring", as Camy Tang puts it. So I'm all for the cutting in editing--just wish I could do it faster!