Chinese Water Torture, Or What It Feels Like To Cut 10,000 Words

So one of the problems with writing in the YA genre is that you have to keep your books succinct. This is a good and bad thing. On one hand, you won’t find a bunch of purple prose. (“Her flaxen hair flowed like dried wheat in Kansas on a sultry summer day with the sweet smell of honeysuckle dripping luxuriously…” Yadda yadda.) On the other hand, you don’t have an unlimited amount of words to get your plot across. No matter how complex, you gotta keep your books short (or shortish).

Yeah, I can struggle with this.

It’s not that I’m naturally long-winded. At least, I don’t think so. It’s that I tend to over-plot. I’ve always got side-stories running. If you’ve read the Amor series, you’re familiar with Mariana’s best friend, Emily, who has an extensive subplot going on through the books. By the end, she could have her own spinoff series.

And if you’ve read my current WIP, you’d know I’ve got subplots to my subplots to my subplots. Personally, I like to think of my books as “multilayered.” However, those in the publishing business may just think of them as about 10,000 words too long.

So now, once again, I’m facing the daunting task of axing about 7 – 10,000 words from a manuscript. Oh, the horror.

And I know I’m not the only one suffering. When I mentioned my plight on Twitter, one fabulous Tweeter, @KatieAlender, said:

Once, I actually figured out that by cutting 14 words per page, I could lose 5000 words. So I tried it….. It’s easy… like emptying a bucket one grain of sand at a time, LOL.

Seriously, all you playing at home, give this a shot. We’re talking Chinese Water Torture. One word snipped: drip. Another word cut: drip, drip. Another: drip, drip, drip.

Now you see why YA doesn’t have purple prose.

So off again I go with my machete ready slice this manuscript. If I make it to my word count, I should earn a medal, or at least a certificate or a ribbon like you got in 4H. There has to be a website out there that does this.


Did you hear they cast Jennifer Lawrence to play Katniss in the Hunger Games trilogy? Personally, I have mixed feeling on this. When I saw her at the Oscars in the hot red dress, I was like, “Wow, who’s this chick?” One dress may have seriously changed that girls’ life, because I couldn’t have been the only one who wasn’t aware of her existence until then. (And you know, she was nominated for Best Actress.) On the down side, she’s 20, and while by real-life standards, she’s just a baby, in YA standards, she’s over the hill. By the time she films the third movie in the trilogy, she could be married with children. And she’s also a little too sexy for Katniss, in my opinion. But maybe I just can’t get that dress out of my head. It was really awesome.

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