‘Just Cut the Whole Damn Thing’

On Wednesday, I finished editing my manuscript for Baby Grand. The third edit. And hopefully the last — at least for the time being.

The book is now 330 pages and just over 93,000 words (my original draft was 277 pages).

If you would have told me on Monday that I would be finished by Wednesday, I wouldn’t have believed you. That’s because throughout this entire process, I had planned on adding a chapter at the very end of my book — a chapter that would help clear up some ambiguity. On Monday, it was time to write that chapter, and I was clueless. For the past few months, I’d written a bunch of notes, and lines, for it, things I wanted to include. But things weren’t clicking. I was writing and writing and feeling like I was going nowhere. Not a good sign for a thriller. But I thought that perhaps if I kept writing, something would come to me, and then I’d be able to zero in on it, and cut out all the rest.

I was in bed Tuesday morning, unable to sleep, and it hit me: Why not just cut the whole damn thing?

Not the content of the ending, but trim the way I was telling it. Stop blabbering on and on. Shortening it might make it more impactful.

Hmmm… I wondered if I was suggesting this, because I was being lazy. Or perhaps I’d had enough and needed a break. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that my ending could be more powerful if I took elements that I really liked from my last chapter, the one that I had, and shoved them into my second to last chapter, and made that my ending.

Would it work? I gave it a try, and I think it does. For the past couple of days, I’ve been opening up the manuscript to take a peek at the ending, hoping that I would still be happy with it. And each time I read it, I am.

One of my earlier writing tips (Writing Tip #9) is to “omit unnecessary words.” That’s certainly what I did with my ending, although it took me a while, over a year, to realize I had to.

I joked on my Facebook page that all the recent Facebook changes reminded me of the editing of my novel: Things keep changing, but I’m not sure anything is getting better. But the truth is I think my novel is far better having gone through three revisions. Even though I groaned my way through all of them.

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3 thoughts on “‘Just Cut the Whole Damn Thing’

  1. On one of my early novels I had an epilogue that contained a wrap up of several loose ends. Later I went back and axed it. I think we have to stifle the urge to explain away every little detail to our readers. Too many unanswered questions might suggest our plot wasn’t well developed, but some minor ones simply aren’t important and can end up dragging out the ending. So good for you in withstanding the temptation. :)

  2. This is very helpful for me as I am editing the first draft of a novel — it’s good to hear that things keep changing and can feel better than where they were before! Thanks for the much-needed advice as I move forward!

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