About two weeks ago, I blogged about having to cut paragraphs and scenes. This week, I’m cutting again but in a different way.
Late last week I got my editor’s comments on the electoral college book. For a variety of reasons, my first chapter needs to be shorter. No big deal, except that it is. I had 470 words. My editor wants me to take it down to 300. Sure, she said “we” but I know she really means me and that’s okay. I think.
I managed to take it from 470 to 425 by cutting a few sentences near the end that duplicated information from earlier in the chapter. But now that I’ve done that its going to be a matter of cutting a few words here and a few words there. I can’t whack entire paragraphs because the content is essential.
I need the ideas, but I also need to express them in fewer words. Like 33% fewer. Ouch!
Sometimes the easiest way to do this is to open a new file. Then I to back to the old document and read the first paragraph. Flipping to the new document, I rewrite the paragraph. I’ve got the same ideas and hopefully I have fewer words. Knowing I need to write shorter, this usually works.
In fact, it works easier than just snipping here and there. Why? Because when I do that it reads like I’ve snipped here and there. Words are obviously missing. It can feel patchy or clunky. It definitely feels inelegant.
At one point in my writing career, I would have resisted going to an all new file. It made me feel like I had wasted all that time. And my words! My precious words.
That was then. Now I realize that a new file keeps me from fixating on what is. It frees me to contemplate what needs to be. In the long run, it’s a whole lot faster and less frustrating.
That said, I definitely hope I don’t have to repeat the process for chapters 2 through 8!