#LoveOzLit: Anne Buist talks about the L-word

#LoveOzLit Anne Buist on the length of manuscript

The L-Word

Length. Anne Buist here touches on something that can be quite hard or extremely easy to do — though if it’s easy, I’d hazard a guess and say maybe you have too much stuff in your manuscript. And if it’s hard, gird your loins and be ruthless. Nods. It’s still going to suck, but it’ll be worth it in the end.

So, imagine you’ve written your manuscript — your mystery or crime novel as Anne does — and you’re asked to cut down the word count. Given I do much of the asking as an editor, part of me always feels guilty for saying, hey this part that is xxx chapters long really doesn’t work, so I think it should be cut out in order to make your narrative tighter and also help the pacing and I know you worked months (sometimes years) on this, but it has to go.

I fully expect a WTH moment from the author. It’s hard hearing that. Sometimes, it doesn’t all have to go of course, if there’s middle ground that results in something else, something better, then I’m all for it with bells on. 

Have you read a book with parts that you think should have been cut? 

 

10 Comments

  • Yes. I have read books with threads to nowhere or unnecessary aspects that slow the story.

  • divabooknerd says:

    I’ve read quite a few books in a series that should have been edited out of the series entirely. I think in the case of most books, less usually is more. Books trying to be too clever can be seen as pretentious and too busy storylines, the pacing is typically very manic I’ve found. Not being a writer so I’m completely ignorant, but the storytelling sounds the easier aspects of authoring compared to editing. I see a lot of budding authors on Twitter talking about editing their works in progress and it sounds almost painful.

    • Verushka says:

      I hear you — book that are trying to do too much, cover every angle just suffer for all that level of detail, despite how good it might have sounded in the beginning. It’s hard letting go of things you’ve created, which is maybe why editing their own work can be so painful?

  • Yes! There are definitely books I’ve read that I feel should have been trimmed down – too much unneeded information or moments. For my own writing, I find that my books/stories are often shorter than they should be! LOL

    -Lauren

    • Verushka says:

      Exactly — I swear, I have skimmed through too many books with unnecessary stuff bc I just got bored. LOL, if they’re shorter, then I think maybe you’re off to a good start with your writing!

  • I have definitely read some books that could have been edited a lot more ruthlessly in order to obtain a better overall effect…. Especially trying to read some more Indie this year I’m noticing it more and more.

    It can’t be easy as an author, but I admire the editors that can make the decision and push for it!

    • Verushka says:

      Oh yeah, it’s not easy. Sometimes it’s like chipping away at a stone. But worth it in the end!

  • Definitely! And a lot of times the parts that need to be cut down are redundant. They’re either keep going on about the same thing for way too long, or they’re repeating stuff we already know.

    • Verushka says:

      YES. Oh my gosh, repeating the stuff we already know, especially a couple of times over in new books in a series, drives me nuts.

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