Literary Engineer
Because reading and writing are my only obsessions

Cut it out

I’m working up to my last rounds of edits for The Proper Way to Say Goodbye. At least I think I’m close to the end. But I’ve said that before. And thanks to the help of the amazing Jolene Perry, I am going to do some major cutting because she’s helping me to recognize some of those scenes I don’t need.

And why I didn’t see that before, I don’t know. But that’s what happens with all my beta readers. They point out stuff I don’t see. They help guide me when I get off track or do something silly. I’m very lucky to have all the beta readers I’ve had–they’ve all been a terrific help.

I’m pretty sure my manuscript will be better once I do my cutting, but it sucks because I’ve got some stuff in there I love. Certain bits of dialogue that make me laugh. (And hopefully would make others laugh.) But I understand now that these scenes are either:

1. Redundant. Whatever I’m showing, I’ve done it before, just a different way.
2. Unnecessary. It isn’t moving forward the story of my main character; it’s more about a supporting character.

I haven’t done it yet, but I estimate I’ll cut up to 6,000 to 8,000 words. Which is okay because I’m at 74,000 words and may pad in some more. I’m actually excited to get this wrapped up, so I can start querying. But I don’t want to rush it either.

So is it easy for you to recognize these scenes that need to go? Or do others usually have to point it out?

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10 Responses to “Cut it out”

  1. Jade Hart Says:

    Wow that’s great that Jolene helped so much :) What parts are you cutting???? Eeep. Crap I don’t know if I could delete 6-8,000 words but then again I did cut some thanks to your awesome advice! :)

  2. Emily R. King Says:

    That second pair of eyes that says, “this is unnecessary, it’s already clear” or “you showed this so well you don’t have to tell it” is invaluable. Sometimes we’re not sure if we’ve conveyed the point, and it takes a reader to say, “I got it. Now, move on!”

    Glad you’re getting closer to querying!

  3. Melodie Says:

    I just deleted 7K from a MS I finished over a year ago. Distance and negative feedback helped me “see” what was dragging the storyline, but distance was key. I was able to read the story w/o any emotional attachment and be ruthless. It takes me a while to build up that distance…which is why the advice to let a story sit is so good.

  4. hope roberson Says:

    I always cringe when I have to cut something. With my last WiP, I have a document with all my cuts, it’s probably close to 20 pages. This time, I don’t save any of it. Not sure that’s a good thing or a bad thing :) Good luck!

  5. Lara Schiffbauer Says:

    I seem to be adding. I’ve been going through my manuscript again and so far have added about 200 words. I’ve only done the first twenty five pages, too. I’m trying to get more emotion into the beginning of the manuscript. I’m hoping I’m doing okay…

  6. Morgan Shamy Says:

    Great post. I usually have to add a TON after my first draft… that helps me because usually my first drafts are so small, only the important stuff is in there, so I can only add what is absolutely necessary after that… ;)

  7. tammy theriault Says:

    cutting is so hard. just reading and re-reading you see how much you could cut and why did you have it in the first place. grrrr…

  8. Amy Sonnichsen Says:

    It’s always nice to have another pair of eyes! I think over time it *may* get easier to see it for yourself. At least, my CPs don’t point out as much stuff that needs cutting as they used to … so maybe that’s improvement, maybe dumb luck, or maybe we’re all blind! ha! Who knows?

    Happy snipping!

  9. Janeal Falor Says:

    I’m mixed with this. Sometimes it’s really easy to cut. It seems like the more cutting I do, the easier it is. But other times it’s really, really hard. It’s like I can’t see it there no matter what I do. Good luck with your word cutting!

  10. Katy Upperman Says:

    Cutting is something I struggle with too, until my CPs get a hold of my drafts. Funny how when someone else points out redundancies in your writing, they’re so much easier to let go of. I’m super wordy, so cutting is often a GOOD THING when I get to that point. Best of luck completing your revision and querying… Fingers crossed for you!

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