And make sure the tank is full.
As you likely know by now, I am currently editing a book I wrote in 2006 titled Heller’s Canal. Before going further, certain details are necessary to relate:
The first draft of the book came to 100,243 words.
The length of a mass market Western is generally 45,000 to 70,000 words.
Now, if the book read tight and fast, the original length would be acceptable if the plot supported it. However, the book isn’t an epic Western; it isn’t multi-generational and doesn’t cover decades or even years. It’s a snapshot of Sam Claiborne’s summer spent in the new farming town of Littleton, Colorado Territory, where he faced the challenge of discovering what caused the South Platte River to run dry.
It’s obvious then that the book is too long and needs some serious hacking. Thus, out came the chainsaw.
(Flash forward five weeks to June 18.)
Today, I’m pleased to announce that I’ve sawn off 17,298 words or 17% of the original length. Now the book races rather than plods. No longer do excesses muddy the story. The useless factor nears zero. And the story’s credibility has increased by several orders of magnitude.
Only drawback has been the amount of gas burned. Further, the job has taken many hours, the slaying of many darlings and the replacing of several chains.
Today, I’m saddened to announce that the last one-quarter of the book is running for its life, but I’m determined to catch-up and cut every excess word, restatement, overstatement, silly analogy, witless idea, et al.
My aim is to store my chainsaw by the end of the month. Then I will self-publish and hope to sell some copies to pay my Shell credit card.
More later when I’m finished with the mutilation.