After numerous reader critiques in-house and a conference call between agent and editors, the comments and concerns were compiled and made ready for presentation to the writer – me. I got the call early Monday morning and already knew what to expect. Too long. Needs major cutting. This seems to be a common thread in my work. Thankfully, I have an editor who is very good at carving excess fat away and getting to the meat. We talked about scenes I want to keep in and why and what might happen with the scenes that can go. “Deleted scenes” posted on line, perhaps, so readers would know more of the backstory to the characters that will fill the final published version of the mammoth manuscript I turned in. Sometimes a machete is better than a carving knife, especially when cutting 50,000 words from a 200,000 word manuscript.
Most of the cutting will be done in the first nine chapters where I was getting to know my characters from birth forward. Readers will be happy not to know every last detail of their personal lives. I’ll expand two characters in the second section. I like these people and look forward to getting to know them more. One character I loved died in my first version. She’s now alive and well and has more lines than she did the last time around. No changes there.
Some other tweaks and pinches here and there, and the manuscript will be ready for the next phase. Line editors will go through with a fine-toothed comb and start asking questions and raising flags. I’ll need my notes handy so I can answer them. Historical accuracy is important. I’ve got timelines and binders of information. I would have woven more in, but it would have meant another 50,000 words of atmosphere that might put everyone, including me, to sleep. Sometimes a little goes a long way. People are more interested in people.
Tyndaleans are already hard at work on a cover. I can’t wait to see it!
So, there is an end in sight. I hope to have one scene finished before heading off to Philadelphia and Gettysburg (for the 150th anniversary of the battle). Then I’ll dive back into work and try to finish the other scenes before we head off again for another adventure. If not, I’ll be taking my laptop along.