Wednesday, August 11, 2010

My Manuscript has a Body Count

My manuscript is bloody.  It's been hacked and cut and beaten.  It's had its guts pulled out and put back in.   And it's been retitled.  And retitled again.  My manuscript has a body count.

The fist casualty- subplots.  Some of these subplots were funny, others had shocking twists.  A select few even had some achingly beautiful prose.  But don't feel sorry for them either.  They were guilty as sin.  They distracted from the main character arcs, complicated the plot unnecessarily, stopped moving the story forward, or *gasp* were a little too convenient. In short, they had it coming.

The second casualty- characters.  Some lovely characters with invariably witty dialog and secret agendas.  The gay son of a macho warrior who gets off on disappointing his father and has a wicked sense of fashion?  Sadly, gone.  The little girl with magical healing powers that are never explained but critical to the climax of the story?  Axed.  Not that anyone really misses her.

The third casualty- werewolves.  What??  But this was a WEREWOLF book.  Surely the werewolves had to stay.  Nope.  The werewolves were guilty too. Turns out that the werewolves were weighing down the story with my own preconceived notions and baggage associated with the wolf mythology.  Getting rid of the wolves freed me up to reimagine the story and focus on the characters.  And as a bonus, no bestiality undertones!

The fourth casualty-almost the entire second half.  Forty thousand words. Some of them really good words, but words that didn't serve the main characters or conflict. Some great scenes died here.  And I can't lie. It was bloody. 

The fifth casualty- fear.  You'd think with all this cutting and shredding, that there would be no getting rid of the fear.  And at first, there was a lot-seriously, a lot- of fear.  Fear of cutting out some of the best parts of the book.  Fear that I couldn't write anything better or even as good.  That fear was killed off the old-fashioned way.  Not by slashing (even though I wished I could), but by creating.  Writing.  Who new that writing could be such a powerful weapon?

So don't worry about my manuscript and it's body count.  It's fully recovered.

And then some.


  1. Isn't it so freeing to hack away at your manuscript sometimes? I had to do something similar not too long ago - it was painful but oh so worth it. And you never know when those cut characters or subplots might resurface in another project!

  2. It is liberating, Anna! And all those "cut" scenes and characters are safe and sound in another document. Who knows when they might be resurrected again. Okay, maybe not the little girl.