Twelve-Thousand Words

When Anna Yeatts suggested I cut 12,000 words from my completed, edited 87,000 paranormal romance novel, I was a bit skeptical.

Her reasoning was perfectly sound. The shorter paranormal romance would be more marketable.

But sheesh. 12,000 words, or just a bit less than 14 percent of the book. Was it possible? Could I do it? Did I even want to do it?

But okay, I’d try.

I’m now on Chapter 23 (of 39) and have cut 8,000 words. That’s about 350 words per chapter. With 16 chapters to go and only 4,000 words to cut, I’ll probably make it.

The process has taught me three things:

  1. This story needed to get “colder” before marketing. The line edits were completed in January, and it would’ve make a huge difference to let it sit until at least March, and then giving it that final once-over.
  2. Cutting extraneous details makes for a stronger story.
  3. “Kill your darlings” (Faulkner) is good advice. I noticed that this month’s Writer’s Digest included an article on overwriting.

So where am I, and where do I want to be?

I’ll finish up the word-cut this week. A final read before restarting the query process and thinking about #PitchWars this coming fall. And I’ll go back to writing the first draft of the next in the series–which is one-fourth completed.

Whew.

I’m Conflicted

I had another short story accepted for publication this week. I also had another rejection, but I get so many of those, it almost doesn’t count. The story should appear in July—more on that as I know more.

Meanwhile, I’m getting my completed novel ready for the next round of agent queries. I can’t decide whether to send queries out before or after I submit to #PitchWars. If accepted, I’ll work with a mentor to more fully polish my query materials. That’s coming up in September, which feels like a long way away, but really isn’t.

In the process, I re-read my first chapter and hated it.. What was I thinking?

As a result, I devoted most of this week to revision, cutting extraneous details to laser in on the primary conflict for my main character. I’m about to re-read chapter two. I sure hope I won’t be rewriting this coming week.

Hope yours is a good one.

Submission Calls

I started writing short stories in 2017 after reading about the Ray Bradbury challenge. Bradbury recommends writing a short story a week, and that it isn’t possible to write fifty-two bad short stories. I aimed to prove him wrong.

At the end of the year, I had thirty-six completed short stories, fourteen of which were deemed good enough—after much revising—to submit for publication. Since I began, I’ve sent these fourteen stories out seventy-seven times total. Six are currently pending. Five were accepted for publication, three of which have been published.

In case you’re wondering, I’ve had sixty-six rejections, not counting the rejections from agents I’ve queried. Novels don’t count.

So I wondered. Would I have better luck if I wrote short stories specifically for submission calls? I’m about to find out.

I stumbled across a submission call for a dark romance. Lucky for me, I had exactly that in my “story starts” folder. After some frantic revision, I sent it off. While waiting for a response to the submission, I reread the story–a mistake because now I’m perseverating. I think I made three errors—not typos and not grammar. Fixed, I could have improved my story arc. Serves me right for rushing.

Next, I found a submission call for a horror story similar to a premise I’d been trying to get on paper since 2017. I managed to complete the piece, but here come the doubts. Is it an overdone trope? Is the twist predictable? Are the characters likeable—especially the main character? Do I have too little exposition? Too much? Is the dialogue stilted? Is it overwritten? Underwritten? Enough descriptive detail or too much?

Time will tell. I have to keep reminding myself to embrace rejection, be patient, trust the process, and learn to be lucky.