Status: Drafting the fourth book in the PERILOUS series!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Cut to the Story, Already!

So I'm reading a book. (What else am I supposed to do when I spend 10 hours a day nursing a baby?) This book, to me, lacked a lot of curb appeal. The cover felt too cartoonish, and the summary didn't grab me.

To my surprise, the book caught me in the prologue. I was intrigued. It actually started well! The first few chapters were rolling. I got excited and sat down to enjoy the show.

Then it started to drag a little.

Then a lot.

Now I'm wondering when it will end.

So sad! The author has a fantastic imagination and lots of great concepts. But the book is just dragging on! It needs to be trimmed. I find myself skipping paragraphs. I roll my eyes at lines that tell us what is going to happen right before they show us. Redundant! And I don't feel the romance at all. Yes. Less is more sometimes.

But at the same time...I have this haunting fear that we've cut too much from my book. I got this AWESOME response from the person I hired to do my book trailer:

"Finished reading your book. It was a really quick read, I read it in a day. A lot of fast-paced action! Now I really want to know what Jaci's dad does, what will happen to the Hand, to Jaci, and if the girls will be okay. Amanda kind of drives me nuts. I like Jaci alot. GREAT JOB, Tamara."

Which made me feel totally awesome! Yeah, like really. But she followed it up with:

"I felt like it was good the way it was, but if it had been longer, I would have enjoyed it more."

Which made my heart freeze up with paranoia. Mostly because I feel like people will like it more if it's longer, that parts of it have been cut at the expense of the story.

So. The happy medium. How do you reach the point where you realize the book needs trimming, and how do you make sure you don't go too far? Because in all honesty, as an author, we think NOTHING needs to be cut. We hate to chop the limbs and appendages off our baby. But sometimes it REALLY does need to be cut.

I don't have an answer. Is it the perfect length? Or does it feel like something's missing? I'll let you guys tell me after you read the book.


Solvang Sherrie said...

Ugh. It's never ending, isn't it? The doubt, the worry plague us every step of the way. I think even best selling authors can have those thoughts.

Suzanne said...

Oh the happy medium. What one person will think of as too long will be too short for someone else. Go with your gut!

KarenG said...

Better to have a reader say it was too short than too long! I love those books when I hate coming to the end, even when it's an 800 page Russian novel. And you just wish it would keep going. Sounds like an exciting response from your reader, that's supposed to make you feel good not bad LOL.

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

Amen, Karen! Definitely better too short than too long.That's how I"m feeling about the book I'm reading. I really want to like it! but i"m tired of it now!

Jemi Fraser said...

It's all so hard - I know I have to go back in and build up the description some because I keep so little in in the first place - terrified of having too much :)

Angie said...

I don't have answer except, go with your gut.

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DL Hammons said...

My novel is 103,000 long. It is highly recommended that first time novelist submit manuscripts that are between 90K and 110K. On Saturday I sat down with it at 7:30 in the AM and finished reading it at 4:00 PM. Nobody whose read it has said "you need to add more", but I have heard some say it could be trimmed some. I'm happy with it where its at.

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

Good for you, DL! I was just like you with the first novel I wrote. I thought, the longer, the better! I've had to do quite a bit of cutting on both of mine.

LeishaMaw said...

It is so hard to know! I cut 30,000 words from mine, but now I'm adding words back in. Shrug. Who knows. Good luck!

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