So, if you’re like me, you like really fat, juicy, wordy books. Unfortunately, that can be intimidating for some YA readers and those big, fat books are hard to sell. Maybe you’ve been told to “hurry it up already” or someone has gently reminded you that 450 page romances just don’t sell. Either way, you’ve got to edit.
From my own vast knowledge (wink,wink) I’ve come up with five fool-proof ways to shave thousands of words from your manuscript.
1. Kill a character. I know that you love all your characters, even those that provide comic relief, or the brother that really helps establish your characters softer side. Sorry, he’s taking up precious real estate in your story. If it doesn’t move the story along in a major way, just get rid of them. You’ll be able to cut dialogue and whole scenes really easily.
2.Shut your mouth. Dialogue helps establish how your characters think, but sometimes those conversations with other characters, especially bit ones, go on too long. Shut it down. Make it funny, make it sad, but most of all shorten it.
3. Park your bottom. Establishing setting takes a little while, especially if you’re doing it right, but every time you introduce a new setting you have to spend the time to describe where your characters are, what they see and hear. Stop moving around so much. Think of a TV sitcom. They’ve got a few sets they’ve built and they have to make it work within those few sets. Do the same.
4.Keep your eye on the prize. Like everything, it helps to have a goal. I like to overshoot and then cut back. I think it’s easier to whittle a scene down than it is to build one up, but whichever you choose, have a word count in mind. This makes it easier to make those hard decisions. You have to ask yourself, “Is this necessary?”
5. Become a gold speculator. I know that all your quips and heartfelt confessions are gold, but how golden are they? Sometimes you have to measure that perfect phrase against all the others in your manuscript. If it doesn’t move the story along, it can follow the rest of the detritus to the chopping block. Be confident, there’s enough good to withstand the loss of a few clever turns of phrase.