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Sunday, January 14, 2007

The Best Sort of Surgery

Since finishing the Isle of Swords manuscript on Dec. 31st, I've received and completed two additional sets of edits. As mentioned in the previous post, I've worked with the same editor, a wonderful lady named June, for all of my published books. She's dynamite, and I've learned a metric ton from her.

But…since I somehow have a knack for overshooting my word count by about 10,000-20,000 words, there has been a lot of cutting. For those wondering what I mean by "overshooting my word count," I don't know if all publishers work this way, but for my books, the publisher has predetermined a word count range. I believe it has something to do with typesetting and the number of signatures that will eventually make up the book. Seems like it would make more sense to just have the author write the book and THEN figure out the signatures and such, but oh, well! lol

Being so far over word count means I needed to cut a lot of content from the books. The Final Storm was the hardest b/c I needed to cut almost 20,000 words. But a funny thing happens when you start cutting: you begin to ask the most important question a writer can ask: "Why is this scene in my book?"

Seriously, you need to be cold, hard, and honest about this. The wonderful, clever, witty, yummy scene that you've so colorfully drawn up…uh, does it really belong? If it was missing, would anyone really notice?

When I cut (or my editor cuts) it hurts--A LOT, but it really is the best sort of surgery. Rarely have I been disappointed with the end result of a chapter or scene after cuts. Usually, the scene ends up much stronger, much more powerful or poignant.

For The Door Within, my editors made (read: strongly suggested, and being newly signed, I didn't argue) me cut the first three chapters! Ouch. But in the end, the opening chapters are much more captivating--they hook the reader unlike my original plan.

This is all not to say that I don't disagree with my editors. We go at it via email all the time. But the struggle helps me to define what I really wanted in the story in the first place.

The moral to this tome: send your editor some love; their surgery may save your novel.


Beth Goddard said...

So is there any chance they will make a Playstation game out of this? That would be so very kewl especially for my kiddoes who love the games but are wont of anything with descent spiritual material.


WayneThomasBatson said...

Hey, Beth

At ICRS in Denver this past summer, I actually met the guys who did the PC game version of the Left Behind series. They were interested in my Door Within concept, but we didn't really put anything in concrete. I think a movie would probably precede the games--that is, of course, if the DW books get a movie deal. lol

Thanks for stopping by!

Joshua Mason said...

To tell you the truth. Your editor maybe on to something other Fantasy editors arn't on to yet. A 1,000 plus page book might make readers re-think starting your series.

Why havn't I picked up Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series? Because it would take me two years and three book selves to finish. Thats why.

About the video game, maybe these guys would be intreasted in helping you?

The game Catechumen is very old, maybe they are intreasted in taking up a new project. I think the site is right. I just googled the name of the game they did (it was a Christian game) and posted the first result that looked right.

Joshua Mason said...

Oh and I plan on picking up your book in may. Pirates . . . it's a change from knights, nobles, and space ships.

. . . and I need a change. Maybe in the future you could write a book on Space pirates? Like Firefly? Come on, you know you want to.

WayneThomasBatson said...

Yeah, I know what you mean about the 1,000 page behemoth books. They're somewhat daunting, and become kind of cumbersome.

I don't think that's what my editors are watching for though. I've never had the desire to write such massive tomes. I just want the freedom to write "the story" as it comes--be that 85,000 words or 111,000 words. Then we edit to make it the best it can be. And whatever the page count is, that's what we typeset for.

Unknown said...

Thats really cool. It wierd and cool how God can change your life, in your instance the book, by making a few cuts to make it better.