Just as I was coming up with this title, I realized anyone who didn’t know I’m talking about novels could think about anything kind of trimming.
Nose hair trimming! Trimming of shrubs!
While those topics are rather interesting, I refuse to blog about trimming my nose hair and I have no experience with landscaping. So, this will be about trimming of novels.
It’s funny, but on different novels, I seem to have different problems. On my first novel, which I call Broken Glass, the rough draft clocked in at 70K words. I then did a bold cut and took out about 7000 words. Some were deleted forever, some were moved around in the novel (leaving holes which had to be filled) and some were scenes that had to be rewritten.
It took months, but I wanted my word count to be a nice even 70K, so I spent the last few months getting it back up (It’s now where I want it.) The first 4000 were easy, the last 3000 were painstaking. After the needed scenes were put it, it was a hard road to finish up.
It worked out well though. I expanded on several different characters and their likes and dislikes. More subtle clues were added and a just a lot of small details. A bit was padding, but I’m pretty pleased with how it’s all come together.
With my second novel, sequel to BG, I call Secrets Shards and Shadows, came in at 97,000 words. I’m not sure if I was more comfortable the second time around, but boy did the words flow.
I knew this book was going to be longer then the first, but I didn’t want it to be too much longer. And when I went back in for editing, it was starting to head toward 100K. 30K difference is a lot between two books. So I knew I had to get down. I’d like to get it down to 90K, but I think realistic is 95K.
The problem was, there wasn’t any scenes I wanted to cut. Like the first book, there was scenes I wanted to rewrite. However, once these were done, it didn’t really change the word count. I was able to through the book and find some paragraphs I could take out, but again it didn’t help much.
This is when I started trimming.
I once read on George RR Martin’s blog, he does this as well. He started it a long time ago, way back when he wrote for TV shows. They’d tell him to cut five pages out and he liked everything, so he just trimmed.
It’s where you read and find words to remove. Some paragraphs it’s a word or two. Sometimes it’s a full sentence. In the beginning, it doesn’t seem to make a big difference. However, the further you go, the more results you see.
I’ve only gone through about 1/4 of the book and almost 800 words are gone so far. Already! And it doesn’t feel like I’m really losing anything. I’ve just been rewording certain sentences and cutting the fat out.
It’s been really helpful, because I’ve looked over my scenes and they seem tighter. Nothing is long winded or wordy anymore. The structure is also a lot better and it just sounds better.
It’s very slow, but I found reading out loud helps a lot. You catch things you normally wouldn’t when you read in your mind.
So this is what I’l be working on for the next few weeks. Do you trim, or does it not work for you? Let me know =)