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Killing my darlings

Hi all, I’m flying in to apologize for the lack of recent posts — I’m madly racing (I just typed that as raving, and it’s not far wrong, LOL.) towards the end of the book and planning to send it in to my editor at the end of the week. I’m almost finished — just two scenes to go — a wedding and an epilogue — but that’s not my problem.

The wip (work in progress) is too long — over 115,000 words. My usual books are between 95,000 and 100,000 words long (well, except for The Perfect Rake, which was 126,000 words, but that was my first book with Berkley and I didn’t know any better).  Now, you might say that the length of the book doesn’t matter to you, and I’d agree: as long as a book keeps me turning the pages, I don’t care how long it is.

No, the problem is the printing process — specifically it’s a paperback problem. E-books are fine. But with paperbacks, my publisher tends to make the books pretty much the same number of pages each time — around 320 pages maximum, and that means no matter what the number of words in the manuscript, they will shrink the print to fit the number of pages. Which means in some cases, small print with close together lines, and it’s hard to read for some people.

And so I get emails from people, complaining. Not that I can do anything about it.

So I’m cutting words, and even though I know that cutting always makes a book stronger, it’s hard. I’m cutting bits I really like, but that don’t actually need to be in the book. You know what they (writers) say — “Kill your darlings.” So I’m madly killing darlings.

 

I’ll share some of them if you’re interested, but later, after my editor has seen the manuscript and I’ve revised it. I’ll be asking her if she can see any more darlings to kill.

In the meantime, keep well and healthy, and try to find joy in small moments.

I’m enjoying the flowering of my tangled garden. This is my lilac, just coming into bloom, and the jasmine is covering my side fence in fragrant gorgeousness. I love flowers with scent. 

 

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Kathleen
Kathleen
28 days ago

I’m imagining the text shrinking and shrinking as you type…

Definitely keen to read the extracts!

Anne Gracie
Anne Gracie
25 days ago
Reply to  Kathleen

Thanks, Kathleen. I managed to prune away a few thousand words, but it’s still too long. Oh well, I’ll see what my editor says.

theo
theo
27 days ago

I’d read your grocery list so I think your books should be as long as they need to be. I also however, understand what an editor is supposed to do, so share away!

Anne Gracie
Anne Gracie
25 days ago
Reply to  theo

Nah the grocery list is reeeeally boring. LOL I’m trying to be healthy, so not even chocolate on it.

Sue McCormick
Sue McCormick
27 days ago

I understand your pain and I applaud your fortitude. It is also clear that you care more for your readers than for your skillful statements. Thank you, Anne for you concern for us.

Anne Gracie
Anne Gracie
25 days ago
Reply to  Sue McCormick

Thanks, Sue — I do try. :)

Marianne
Marianne
27 days ago
  1. I’d far rather read the distilled essence of a book than one pumped up to fill pages. But, honestly, can’t publishers tweak the fonts, margins, spacing, blank pages, pre- and post excerpts?
Anne Gracie
Anne Gracie
25 days ago
Reply to  Marianne

Marianne, that’s what they do — tweak fonts, etc, but it results in a denser page of print and usually smaller font, so it’s more difficult to read. And a manuscript is always better for tightening.

Janice Layton dunlap
Janice Layton dunlap
26 days ago

I would read your books whatever the length, however there are a few writers where I want to say, OK you have demonstrated how many adjectives you know and that you have read the dictionary but get on with the story

Anne Gracie
Anne Gracie
25 days ago

Thanks, Janice. Yes, that’s the kind of thing that needs to be pruned. On the other hand, I also like my adjectives and adverbs — I don’t subscribe to the theory that they need to be avoided at all costs.

Jennifer Kinch
Jennifer Kinch
26 days ago

I’d love to read the ‘dead darlings’! Such a bummer they must be killed, since those little pieces always add to a story (The Perfect Rake is one of my favorites. I just recommended it to someone last week.)

Anne Gracie
Anne Gracie
25 days ago
Reply to  Jennifer Kinch

Thanks, Jennifer — I will definitely post some once I have feedback from my editor. I’m so glad you like the Perfect Rake — and thanks so much for recommending it. Much appreciated.