In school, I used to dread essays. Most kids did. But, while other children feared the seemingly unachievable word count, I feared the limit.
Yep. I’m one of those. I was the kid asking if it was okay to turn in twenty pages instead of fifteen. I’m the one you used to throw wads of paper at and threaten to take care of after class.
It wasn’t that I loved writing more content; it was just easier. My big, bad demon was – and still is – editing myself. For all the other writers out there that struggle to fill those blank pages with words, I’m sweating bullets trying to make them go away.
Most first novels run between 100,000 and 150,000 words. Mine is upwards of 250,000. This isn’t a mere case of deleting a few adjectives and making sentences smaller; it’s hacking, chopping, and rending my story and then sewing it back together like Frankenstein’s monster, hoping it, too, still has life at the end.
First go the superfluous scenes – the intermittent pieces of fluff I once thought charming. Then I started in on the chapters themselves, demolishing whole scenes in order to skim a few hundred words here and there. But, I was nowhere near my goal. So, I’ve turned on entire chapters, once again playing that “what if” game with myself that I thought I was done with when plot outlining was finished. “What if I cut out the part of the story where she finds out…?” and “What if I make her do this, instead of that? That way, I can consolidate two chapters into one, much shorter, chapter.”
I’ve been forced into minimalism.
The gleaming jewel that seemed so perfect when it originally flowed from my fingers is now a giant hunk of beef slapped down on the cutting board. Problem is, I don’t just have to trim the fat; I need to turn a Porterhouse into a Filet.
That’s a lot of cow.