A few days ago, I finished a round of edits on my fantasy adventure novel Never Heroes, which I’ve been working on pretty much nonstop since the summer of 2014, bringing my work time on it to three years now. I’d completed what I believed was the final draft sometime back in May, only the 2nd or 3rd time I’d believed the book was done.
Just one problem. The book was too long. For a first time author, the word count of 150K was a bit steep, something one of the people responding to my query wasn’t shy about saying. The response I got was the idea interested them, but they wondered if I’d be able to shorten the book to a more manageable 100K, effectively cutting out a third of the book. I began a round of edits, cure I’d never come close to that goal. I thought maybe I’d reach 120K, 115 if I was lucky.
As it stands currently, my book has dropped to 106K words.
All I can say is that I’m exhausted, but also relieved the book is now this short. The fact that it had dropped so steeply in length will make it much more attractive to a potential publisher. This hasn’t been an easy journey, and I’ve thought the end of was in sight more than a few times only to find there was still work aplenty to be done. Effectively I had to learn the art of writing these last few years, character development, plot structure, and now the arduous task of editing one’s work to something at least resembling perfection.
So what did I lose? The answer is I lost nothing of any real substance. I’d a funny habit of overcompensating and overwriting certain parts of the book, including things like unnecessary flashbacks, stretching out scenes to un needed length. The book was even shortened by a chapter, one group of pages crammed full of so much filler it quickly dropped from 16 pages to a mere four or five. I slapped those pages onto another chapter and called it a day.
I didn’t lose many entire sequences. Mostly I’d cut out a paragraph here and there. When working on a bit of prose I’d wonder just how do I make this good? Eventually I’d say if it doesn’t work, just cut it, shaving off a paragraph with another couple hundred of words.
These efforts have carried the book to places I couldn’t have imagined, the groundwork for a trilogy taking root every time I’d mull things over or dance my fingers across the keys of my Mac Book. We’re not quite done yet. Now that the book is shorter, I aim to go through it one last time and fix a few issues that have plagued me, from my flawed first two chapters to various other bits of prose that a shine. It should’t take long. Maybe another month or two. During that time I plan to bring it down below 100K. It’s only five thousand words. I can do it.
Is this my final round of edits on the book? I sure as hell hope so because I’ve developed a kind of love hate relationship with my book. I do believe in it and these characters have done their due to keep me alive and dreaming. But it has been a struggle, hitting the book with the paddles over and over again and struggling to bring it to life.
But it’s breathing, and that alone is an immense relief.
Once this round is done I’ll be posting the updated first three chapters again and linking them. I’d like to thank everyone who stayed with me this far, through all of the false finishes and problems I’ve faced, because your support does mean a lot. I hope it’s been less of a chore to read this thing than it has been to write it.