Thursday, June 27, 2013

{In Your Write Mind Workshop}: Cutting and Tightening Your Novel

Hosted by Kate Martin

"Writing is like a spider web -- what isn't there is just as important as what is." ~Janet Reid

Cutting your novel down to a manageable level can be daunting. Where do you start?

1. Do large cuts first:
  • Full chapters -- Cut and/or combine chapters that are slow, unnecessary, or don't move the plot along. Also, start the story later so that earlier "backstory" chapters can be cut.
  • Minor characters -- Give secondary roles to bigger characters -- if it fits with the characterization.
  • Sub-plots -- if they're not necessary to the overall plot/theme, you can probably cut.

2. Paragraphs and Scenes:
  • Redundant scenes -- if you have duplicate scenes that serve the same purpose, cut them or combine them.
  • Repetitive narrative/dialogue -- if you've said it once already, no need to say it again.

3. Sentence by Sentence and Word by Word
  • "That" and "just" are unnecessary words
  • Cut as many dialogue tags as possible
  • Don't be afraid of simple words -- instantly vs. without another thought
  • You don't need to give every little detail -- readers' minds will fill in the blanks.

Other Tips & Tricks:
  • Cut once on  your own.
  • Then give it to someone you trust to cut it. When you get their cuts back, YOU cut again.
  • Only edit/cut for an hour or hour and a half at a time.
  • Edit by hand
  • You might have to add scenes to clarify/compensate for some of the stuff you've cut. That's okay, just remember: you're trying to cut down your word count. Always keep that in your mind.
  • Keep a notebook next to your computer to jot down notes and ideas.