Paula wonders how to cut or condense parts of her current 'work in progress'.
On Monday, our local paper
reported on some filming in Manchester city centre for the film ‘Genius’ which
evidently centres on the career of Max Perkins. He was an editor at Scribner,
and oversaw the works of Hemingway, F.Scott Fitzgerald, Thomas Wolfe, and
others. We’ll bypass the fact that Jude Law and Colin Firth were there in my
own city being filmed – and I missed them (grr!)
What interested me was the comment in the report about Thomas Clayton Wolfe. He was described as being
‘hopelessly attached to every word he wrote’, and often submitted novels
'hundreds of pages too long'.
Why was I interested? Well,
while not wanting to compare myself with an important American novelist, I’m on
the verge of a similar problem. Unlike him, however, I recognise that my current
novel is probably too long. Most modern romance novels are between 60,000 and
100,000 words (including my previous ones), but this new one has just gone over the 100K mark, with three or maybe
four more chapters still to write, so it could end up with 120,000+ words. I
know that’s not hundreds of pages too long, like Thomas Wolfe, and I’m not
hopelessly attached to every word, so some careful editing will probably get
rid of about 5,000 words.
However, I still feel I
will need to get it down to under 100K, which means I may have to cut
some scenes. My problem is that each scene in my story contributes something to
the overall plot and/or to the characters, and is invariably needed for some
later development of the story. I keep going through the different scenes in my
mind, wondering if I could cut them, but each time I end up saying to myself,
“No, I need that scene because … (whatever!)
The other alternative may be to start the story ‘later’ in the plot – but then I would lose some
important early scenes, which prepare the ground for what happens later.
I’m in a real dilemma at the
moment – and keep hoping ‘something’ is going to jump out and me, and tell me
just what I can cut or at least condense!