Stick Figures

Bad Metaphor Monday: Weeding My Manuscript

imageIf writing a first draft is like planting a couple of marigolds…

and if revising is like ripping out those marigolds, moving them around, and going back over time to add in more varied, layered, vegetation so that everything tangled beautifully together as in an old English garden…

and if you finally realize your damn garden’s too big…

then re-editing is like finding the unnecessary vines, carefully following them to their source, and then ripping them out.

Thanks to the encouragement of my awesome critiquing partner, I finally came to terms with my way too long 133,000 word manuscript, and though I’m still short of my goal, I was able to rip out 16,000 words.  In the past, I’d deleted bits and pieces here and there, but I had to think bigger.  Out came almost three chapters, one secondary character (killed that darling dead), four tertiary characters, and a mess of other not-so-bad-but-uneeded details.

The result?  It’s so much tighter!  I didn’t think I could do without the above for so long, but once I started cutting, I got on a roll.  Now I’m seeing my manuscript through different eyes.  How much more can I cut?  I’m hoping to get down to 110,000, but we shall see.

Shout out below if you’ve ever had to cut a huge amount of words or if you know you have to.  I’ll cheer you on!


14 thoughts on “Bad Metaphor Monday: Weeding My Manuscript

  1. Cutting out chunks comes with the territory. That’s why I finally stopped editing as I go. Much easier to toss out chunks of work I haven’t spent hours refining than to toss out passages I’ve sweated over. 🙂

  2. This is me shouting out. I finished a book at 280,000 words.
    After six edits I had it down to 120,000.
    It took me six years.
    What an idiot, I hear you say.

  3. It is painful to cut things sometimes, and then it turns out so much better and you realise how much the story needed it! 😀 Editing, it is a hard thing, but definitely worth it in the end.

  4. You can’t tell from reading my blog/comment writing, but I really didn’t need to cut that much from my first book (um…does writing the book 3 times in 3 different styles count? Or shredding entire projects?) Then again I write mostly nonfiction so I don’t need to worry about character development and all. I research, triple check facts, write … then I let go and let editor. Sounding much easier than fiction. 😉
    In the end, I have no doubt that your finished product will be brilliant 😀

  5. Sounds like our processes are somewhat similar, in that my first rewriting attempts are always miniscule and cosmetic, and everything feels so precious and like it needs to be there. Together with a very trusted reader/editor, gradually with successive rewrites I can see what needs to come out, but it takes a while, and it’s painful to get there. But always worth it I guess 🙂

  6. 133000 is child’s play–I generated half a million for my first whack at a novel, written over the course of six years and presently being hacked into a part 1/ part 2 book set. I’ve tried to leave most secondary characters in place, but have torn out many tertiary characters and reduced one entire plotline to a few appearances by it’s character–but I saved the “excerpts” for possible use as short stories, teasers, whatever. I actually made some reductions based on the stand-alone-ibility of sections. Sure is difficult work–I have big trouble staying awake for revisions

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