Shallow Cuts First

No, I'm not blogging about torture. My title refers to what I'm doing with my manuscript... which is too freakin' long. Debut YA novels should be 70k-80k words. Mine is a wee bit longer.

I've cut a little over 3000 words. Though this is tough to do, it's not impossible. My rule is: make the shallow cuts first. Cut adjectives and strengthen nouns, cut adverbs and strengthen verbs, remove extraneous words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs, and in a few glaring cases - whole scenes. *sob* You have to be in the right state of mind for this work. You can't be timid, but you aren't going to kill your story or novel by cutting. You're striving for a tighter and better read, and cutting almost always serves that purpose.

Scenes and hunks of chapters are definitely difficult for an author to whack. I've heard it referred to as "killing your babies," but honestly, that shouldn't be true. Look at it this way: the story/poem/novel itself is the baby, not every word or sentence or clever phrase. By walking through what I've written and trimming (sometimes with a machete), I'm helping it evolve so it can survive.

Tammara Webber

New York Times and international bestselling author of contemporary romantic fiction