Cut, cut, cut

January 6, 2019

 

I've just cut a whole subplot from Prism.

 

Unfortunately, there are rules when it comes to writing books, and one of the more unpopular ones is: word count.

 

You can imagine my shock to discover that people have other things to do with their lives than just listen to me go on and on. I wasn't so sure myself, but editors seem pretty convinced that reading my books are not the sole purpose of any living person.

 

Unless you're JK Rowling, you're supposed to keep your books within palatable limits, you see. Too short and people feel like they've missed out, too long and people get bored. The "sweet spot" for any agent or publisher is around the 90,000 word mark and 70-120k are your absolute extremes. Strangely, my debut was pretty short by industry standards. But with Prism I'm having the opposite problem.

 

Prism is set in a small village with all sorts of awesome characters and I just love hanging out there and being around this bunch of miscreants. I'm fascinated by some of the relationships between different characters, and how power keeps shifting. I'm just loving it to be honest.

 

But, alas, it seems all but inevitable that I will breach accepted book-length standards quite soon and accordingly there is work to be done. A strand of the subplot has today found itself axed in its entirety.

 

The thing is, writers can get a wee bit territorial. We like to think that every single word is laced with genius when, in fact, sometimes you've just typed a great big tangent that will only serve to annoy your readers who want to get back to the actual story. 

 

Despite my initial devastation at losing what was actually the last subplot I added into the plan anyway, there's something quite exciting about a cull. Editors do find themselves turned into voodoo dolls, but they also have a knack of helping out and making sure the plotting is tight and  the pace is gripping.

 

Rising from the shards on the cutting room floor, there should (hopefully) be an even more dramatic and exciting story which will now hurtle at breakneck speed when it's appropriate. And, most importantly, a story that will hopefully not bore you.

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