Hack and Slash
While I get increasingly excited about The Iron Ring being released in a mere two and a half weeks or so and wait for my editing notes for Blood and Iron to come through so I can get that in the can, I have a whole other book to worry about. A book that is not done and that must become done by May 1st. That is Book 3 of The Saga of the Redeemed, and it is called All That Glitters.
The book is currently in its fourth revision. All plot pieces are pretty well in place, all the character arcs are established, and the whole thing makes sense. There is, however, a problem: it is 124,000 words (445 pages or so, for you uninitiated). My editor has informed me that, in no uncertain terms, the longest they will accept is 100,000 and they’d really prefer 85K. That’s between 24K and about 40K words. This is not a matter of trimming vocabulary or cutting the odd paragraph. My book needs to go here:
This represents and interesting (and rather terrifying) new problem for me: I do not have the time to write an entirely new book, but the book I have needs to be about 100 pages shorter. So, can I, Auston Habershaw, loquacious chatterbox extraordinaire, find a way to trim fat from a book that, honestly doesn’t have a hell of a lot of fat? Also: can he do it while teaching four university courses, reading thirteen novels (needed to teach those four courses), and read/grade about 20-30 pages of writing from each of my 100 students?
You watch me.
(Well, no – don’t watch me. That would be weird and creepy.)
I’ve got a plan, actually. I’m going to hack some stuff from the beginning, I’m going to axe two major characters, and then I’m going to try and stitch together the pieces in such a way that nobody notices that it’s gone and I still have a kickass novel on my hands. The real trick is, though, that I need to pull this off in one try. The deadline is too close and I have too much work to do to have this plan fail and to go back to square one.
Accordingly, I am approaching this with all the methodical strategy of a general organizing a campaign. I’ve got the wall of my office covered with index cards representing each individual scene of the novel and, most importantly, that scene’s word count. I’ve never done this before because, prior to having a book deal, I’ve never needed to worry overmuch about word count. If I wrote a 124K book before, I’d say to myself, “Hell, I’ve read plenty of fantasy novels that were 450 pages!” Then I’d pat myself on the back and eat a steak. Now, though, I need to worry about things like contracts and editors and marketing and having a length of book that will fit well in the market and so on. So, no steak for me. Not yet.
Steak is for closers.