I’m editing right now. Fourth draft. The plan – beforehand at least – was to make some tough cuts, chop out a couple characters and some extra scenes, trim it down a bit.
Well I can’t. I don’t want to. It just doesn’t feel right.
Would it bring the reader to a climactic scene a bit sooner? Yes. Around 3,000-ish words sooner. Would it reduce the overall word count? Yes, by about 5-7,000 words, I think.
Would the reader know my protagonist as well, understand what makes her tick a bit better? Definitely not. Would it hinder the story arc over three books? Yes, a little.
I’ve been worried – obsessed, if you want the truth – about the fact that this one pivotal scene happens around a quarter of the way through the book. I’ve gotten it into my head that that’s too long. But the thing is, something like a dozen people have read it so far, and not a single person has shared that sentiment. I think I’ve been so focused on advice that says you have to lay out ALL THE ACTION!!! on the first page, but there’s more than one way to write a book. Do my first few pages lay the foundation for some action? Yes they do. This go-around I’ve been working on ramping up the spookiness so there’s a better sense of impending peril, which admittedly wasn’t as effective as it could be in previous drafts. If I’m doing it right, there should be lots for the reader to worry and wonder about. And those pages leading up to that one big scene certainly aren’t devoid of action. There’s lots going on.
I’m coming to the realization that cutting the chracters and scenes I was contemplating really does a disservice to the story. The reader needs to know who Callie was before in order to appreciate the way she changes throughout the series. By cutting all those parts, she’s less vibrant, less passionate, less anchored to her old life.
Are there still some thoughtful changes to be made? Absolutely. But this is going to be my final draft. I can’t keep going back and forth on this issue, wondering if I should or shouldn’t. It’s time to finish it and move on.
Wish me luck!