“Do not fall into the error of the artisan who boasts of twenty years experience in craft while in fact he has had only one year of experience–twenty times.”
Nor do I! But sometimes, I’ll write a scene that seems like a dramatic turning point, only to see it become irrelevant as the plot evolves. Then, as great as the whole thing once seemed in my head, I’m forced to admit that it didn’t work on the page, and I cut accordingly.
You can’t be too precious with your manuscript. I look at it like a personal trainer looks at his client: There’s lots of potential, but to achieve it, we’ll need to improve your form and trim some fat. It won’t be easy, and may even be a little painful, but eventually it will be worth it.
I don’t know. Any first year writer who has enough time to sit at a computer and bang out words would be a good guess, though.
The phrase of choice is “kill your darlings.” You can’t be afraid to cut anything. A first draft is a fine place to try out ideas, but the law of averages says a lot of them are just not going to work.
It’s not hard to write a lot of words. The real question is are they any good? I know a few new authors that are doing 3,000 a day everyday. That’s 1,095,000. I shoot for 2,000 words a day and at a minimum I do 1,500 that is 540,000 - 730,000 a year. Now not all of that is kept. But when you writer everyday you can keep the work progressing at a nice pace.
I edit with a machete, and when the blood splatters on my face I smile like American Psycho. I’m not afraid to kill my darlings, I’m excited!
Thanks for all the advice. I’ll certainly remember this. And checking for typos and those things would come after the rewrite, which is where I’ll adress the issues of plot and development
I’ll give you an example of what I did to one of my earlier draft books to Starchild Duel: I was plodding along at a good clip in 2001-2002. I wanted to make the sequel to my Starchild novel a good one.
So here is Draft #2 plugging along at about 734 pages (the third draft version currently has 1234 pages) and I’m in my zone, in my method of zen and then…something happened. Can’t say what exactly, but for the next 200 pages I went off on the mother of all story detours–within that set universe–but nothing and I mean nothing was making a lick of sense.
In the end, I finally had enough and pulled the whole 200 pages out of the book and deleted a whole bunch of chapters. Why? Because it wasn’t even driving the story. It was hurting it.
You guys must think that I’m holding onto everything I write. Every single word, every single sentence, phrase, statement, bits of dialogue…like all of my past drafts were merged with Draft No. 2 and 3.
But none of you were even there 20 years ago to watch me work my magic on my books. You didn’t know me back then, you didn’t know what I was doing, you have no idea what I am capable NOW (in 2019 versus 2001) because you don’t follow along. You don’t read anything I’ve written over the years, how could any of you make any kind of blind determination that what I do as a writer is a colossal failure in your eyes because you don’t see what’s there in written form?
I literally have posted my books here on Wattpad for people to read. For five years. Any one of you could have taken the time to read the books. But for some ungodly reason, many of you could only stomach three whole chapters!
This is like taking one of Stephen King’s latest books and reading only the end and thinking you know how the whole book is going to turn out. Just the ending.
This is how you guys operate with me. Even my critics here haven’t read my books in their entirety. Because if they did, they would know more about what the hell is going then pretending that the whole scope of the story line is squarely focused on just the sex scenes and nothing else.
So unless you have some real hard evidence that I need to butcher the crap out of my novels and make them more “marketable”, you have no leg to stand on when you’re telling me to cut out every possible scene or chapter in the novel in order to shorten the distance to the goal line.
Yeah, you see a first year writer who is just starting out isn’t going to be able to hit 308,000 words on their first try. Not even going to happen. Because a book of that magnitude took me 5 years to write–as a first time writer going pro.
Schuyler, no one is suggesting you need to do anything to cut your novels. They might be just fine the way they are. When you publish it will be for readers to decide whether or not they buy, but thats fine. You wrote somthing you are proud of. That’s all that matters. I just think you should go ahead and put it out into the world
That’s because you used a line editor NOT a developmental editor. A line editor doesn’t look at plot and pacing and the words removed were probably redundancies in sentences.
If you had engaged a developmental editor they wouldn’t have removed any words either, but would have sent you an editorial letter outlining overall and chapter by chapter issues with plot, pacing, characterisation and POV.
It’s very important writers understand the type of editor they are hiring and the different types of work they do.
Anyone can spill thousands of words on the page. I believe GRRM wrote more than that in his latest that is told entirely from the POV of Hodor…
You tell me: Have you sat down at any point in the last 5 years on Wattpad and read anything of mine in that time frame? If not, how can you sit there with a straight face and insult me by suggesting that what I write isn’t “any good”?
Do people from all walks of life tell you the same thing after you finished plugging a 200,000 word novel that took 12 months to painstakingly write? I know you guys have no respect for anyone who writes the big books. Your attitudes toward people like me is pretty self-evident.
You feel like you rule the roost on everything but you have no room in your world for any kind of given flexibility or compromise. You feel that one person’s accomplishments means nothing because “everyone can do it”.
News flash: Not everyone these days is cut out to writing the giant novels of the writing world.
I just happened to get lucky. But it was also a lot of hard work too. It didn’t just come to me overnight.
Many of us write large books. Please stop attacking other users. Here is the thing, no one owes you reads. No one owes any author reads. We write what we write. We write in the way we think is best, and then we put our work into the world. With any luck? Some people will enjoy it. There is no need to argue with those who dont. You will find your readers. Its ok that not everyone will be among them. I just need you to understand that attacking other people here isnt going to help. Why bother? You fundamentally disagree with them so why not just leave it at that. I dont intend to continue this conversation but again, attacking others is not a good way to get your point across. All anyone where wants if to help one another succeed in our own writer journeys
You’ve spent 20 years on one 200k novel and you have been told, repeatedly, that the word count is not exceptional for the genre. Over that time period Micheal has probably written over a million words. Over the last 3 years that you’ve been having your book “edited”, I’ve written/critique/edited/formatted/published 750,000 words and I’m a slow writer.
I’m not sure what it will take to get it through to you that the word count is not exceptional.
You keep making derogatory comments at us because we haven’t read your book but we don’t have to. Readers don’t owe you a full read. As you have been told, repeatedly, if you have a high word count book and readers are only struggling through the first few pages you have a problem. A problem you chose to ignore.
And yet again you have hijacked someone else’s thread to make it all about you. Honestly we should rename IIC the ST Club and be done with it.
You are comparing apples to oranges. You’re not a first year writer. By you own admission you have been working on the book for over 20 years. In fact you beat us over the head often with the fact you have been working on this book for over 20 years.
I do love this quote
If you need attribution, it’s Trevanian, Shibumi. Although I learned it from Harlan Ellison, RIP.
I loved that book back in the day!
Do me, and the rest of us a favor, and please stop arguing. Everyone has their own style and way of doing things. Some people can be aiming for a higher word count, while others won’t care that much about the length. The important thing is that you’ve given your all in the book