Trimming Your Novel: Low-level Trimming

What lasts in the reader’s mind is not the phrase but the effect the phrase created: laughter, tears, pain, joy. If the phrase is not affecting the reader, what’s it doing there? Make it do its job or cut it without mercy or remorse. – Isaac Asimov

You’ve already taken a step back from your story and trimmed superfluous content that doesn’t fit into three-act structure. Then you analyzed each scene and made sure it plays a strong role.

Now, at last, it’s time to ensure every sentence and word in your manuscript is pulling its weight. Read on to learn how you can identify and fix potential issues bogging down your writing.

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Trimming Your Novel: Medium-level Trimming

You’ve already taken a step back from your story and trimmed superfluous content that doesn’t fit into three-act structure. Now it’s time to inspect the remaining scenes.

At this stage, we’re still not quite worrying about word choice and sentence structure — rather, we’re concerned about whether our scenes begin in the right place, end in a timely manner, and do not repeat content from earlier scenes. As well, we want to ensure each scene is pulling its weight by developing character arcs, advancing plot, and informing theme.

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Trimming Your Novel: High-level Trimming

Get out your notebook! Taking a step back from your manuscript and studying the entirety of your story can help you trim your word count. At this stage, you might cut entire scenes or chapters. You might cut or combine characters. You might rearrange, add, or remove plot elements. Sentence-level details are not a concern yet.

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Cut Your Novel In Half — Without Losing the Story

The title sounds preposterous, but I’ve done it. The first draft of Prison of Whispers was around 245,000 words. After a little research, I determined most authors have a better chance finding representation if their novel’s length is within accepted industry standards. For second world adult fantasy, that’s around 100,000 to 120,000 words.

So with my 245,000 word behemoth, I had a big problem.

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My Author Website Is Finally Online!

Welcome to my website! :tada:

It’s been in development a long time, and I’m so happy to finally make my online presence official. I look forward to sharing my passion for reading and writing fantasy stories here on my blog. :dragon_face: You can subscribe to my RSS feed if you have a reader.

Time permitting, I have a lot of aspirations of what this space can be. Sharing some hard-won writing advice, my favourite books on writing craft, maybe offering critiques and finding guest bloggers. But for now, my writing largely comes first. I plan to begin querying my adult fantasy novel, Prison of Whispers, by the end of this month. While I’m waiting to hear back on that front, I’m going to finish the first draft of my YA fantasy story, tentatively titled “Dragon Keeper”, which I intend to self-publish in 2020.

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