Happy Suffering: The Shorter Novel

The cutting of my novel, Torment, is done (Torment is the working title - I'm still hunting for the right title, especially now that someone just released a YA novel of the same name).  My beta readers have all reviewed it now and I'm ready to start sending it out with a vengeance.

I have to admit that, while cutting 48,000 words and two viewpoints was one of the harder things I have done, it has proven to be one of the best things I could have done for this book.  Cutting almost 50,000 words sounds horrible and it wasn't easy, that I assure you.  However, what initially felt like a process of amputating organs turned out to be more like having several ugly warts removed.  While it was painful, the end product was a lot prettier.  My sincere thanks go out to the editor and the agent at the PNWA conference who told me to cut it as a prerequisite to submitting to them (you know who you are).

What was so great about cutting the book, you ask?

Well, there are a couple of answers to that question.

First, in having so much to cut, I really had to look at every single line of the story and determine the value it added.  It was through that process that I decided I could afford to cut two of the five viewpoints.  A few unexpected benefits came from cutting those viewpoints.

1)      My main character didn't have to share the limelight with so many people, which allowed her to keep a firm hold on her esteemed position as one of the single best characters I have ever written.

2)      The protagonists love interest took over several scenes that had previously belonged to another character.  Through these extra scenes, he developed into a more sympathetic character while retaining enough arrogance and emotional distance to be believable as a prince and military leader.

Secondly, I hacked away at scenes that didn't move the story, trying hard to keep the momentum going while not losing any of the character building.  Simply put, I had to learn a lot about pacing.  This also had some great benefits.

1)      It helped strengthened my primary antagonist, giving the character a more aggressive feel simply by tightening down his scenes.

2)      It taught me a lot about pacing in all my writing.  I have noticed that the first draft of the urban fantasy I am working on now (while I familiarize myself with the steampunk genre for the next project) has a much better sense of momentum than the first drafts of Torment did.

All around, I learned so much about writing and editing throughout this process that I believe I am a better writer because of it.

In the writing world, the learning never stops, nor should it.  Every time we, as writers, charge head on into a challenge, we get an opportunity to learn things that will help us to be the best we can at this.  That is worth every bit of pain and frustration we may suffer along the way.

Happy writing!