I've been waiting to hear from my agent about when she would begin the review and pitching process for my book. I got an email from her yesterday, saying she would do a final re-read on the manuscript in mid-April. She also said that the book was a bit long -- apparently there's an optimum size for a first novel (at least if it's to get the attention of a publisher), and it's not the epic tome I've got on my hands right now.
Could I whittle it down a bit before then?
Since she's an editorial agent, she could make suggestions herself when she does the final re-read, but since they're my words, I'd rather be the one to decide which ones are to go.
I've got to lose around 20,000 words in the next week. 20,000 words. I didn't realize just how much easier it is to write them than it is to decide which ones don't need to stay.
I went through the first 4 chapters last night and actually got rid of over 2,000 -- without changing any of the actual story, just tightening sentences and looking for places where, if I'd said something strongly enough the first time, it didn't bear repeating.
Basically it's very similar to my theory of weight loss: yes, I'd love to be 20 pounds lighter, but in reality, I'd settle for everything just being a bit tighter.
That's what I'll call it. I'm not whittling my manuscript. I'm not pruning it.
I took the Modern Poetry (ModPo) MOOC and the teacher taught us about "muscular" writing. Differences between muscular and flabby prose is especially apparent in some of the algorithm-generated poetry with prose as input.
I also took the Writing for the Sciences MOOC. It takes some work to distill your work down into a 250 word abstract, yet still lure potential readers to read your entire paper.
One of my professors in college (business communications) always reminded us of her philosophy, "I wrote a long letter because I didn't have time to write a short one" Takes much longer to think through and say only what needs to be said. I guess the same with writing books. Good luck!
My husband always tries to edit my business letters to be longer and more detailed. I always say what needs saying and get it over with. No one ever accused me of lacking clarity.
But I do love your weight loss analogy, your theory of which is so like my own. Well written. I hope your book gets picked up.
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