Drinks at the bar. (after pitching)
That pretty much sums up my PNWA Conference experience.
I was far more nervous pitching agents than having a job interview. And I couldn’t sleep, worrying about it. Yes, I’d love a job, but I’d die for a publishing contract. So I had 3-5 minutes to pitch some I’ve spent 2+ years on. No pressure.
I just spent the last four days working on and delivering my novel pitch (which I really didn’t change since WDC in January) and learning more about writing.But there’s one thing I learned more than any other lesson.
I knew going in that my manuscript for Steam Palace was too long. I was terrified that they would hear that and not want to even hear my pitch. When they did ask the length, I said, “140K but I’m working on it,” with a smile. They replied, “well, I’d like to see it……after you cut it down to 100K.”
That’s a 30% reduction. I spent a lot of the conference asking authors or presenters about strategies on how to do this. I’ve come up with 4 main approaches:
- Trim scenes. Start them later. End them earlier. Combine two scenes into one.
- Cut subplots. Do we really need to know Aunt Beatrice had a crush on a guy 20 years ago and rekindles that relationship?
- Cut characters. Thomas was supposed to be Sophia’s love interest. But her real “love” interest is Viola. (buddy/family love) So why have two love stories?
- Line Editing. I figured I can reduce the ms by about 5% by removing extraneous then’s, but’s, adverbs, of’s, etc. This would be a final step once I get down to ~105K.
I think if I cut my ms 30%, I’ll actually improve it 100%. Less is more. I’ll concentrate on what’s important, leave out what’s not so important.
But once this editing is done and I send it out, it’s done. No more Steam Palace. Ever. Unless, of course, I get a publishing contract. Then it’s all Steam Palace, all the time.
Now to get out that axe and start hacking!