Cutting a Project in Half

There are a number of options an author has when a book is too long.  There is steam lining the story, removing little bits here or there.  There is cutting arcs and whole scenes.  And there is dividing the book into multiple parts.  Operating under the belief that my book is too long (153,000+ words), I’m using all three options with a goal of having a publishable book, but mostly I’m going to write about cutting the project in half.

It isn’t as simple as simply finding the halfway point and making the cut there.  Not every story will have an adequate break point in the middle, and cutting the flow of the story can make for a jarring division.  So you have to find a point where you can divide the story.  The best place to make a break in my story comes about a third of the way through.

Second, I look at the arcs involved in the story.  One of the arcs was written to produce conflict and explain the world more to the reader, but it doesn’t quite work cut up, so I’ve removed it (at least temporarily).  The main arc works, but needs a lot of clean up.

The third step is to look at what is left and ask yourself: is this a book?

My modified story is not.  It needs some expansion, and not just because it is so small, but because it needs to be able to stand on its own.  So I’ve sat down and considered how to change the book, planned and outlined and established what I want to have happen so the second book will work.

A large portion of the work is based on the realization that the character who would head into the second book would not be the same one as from the rough and first drafts.  She’ll have more time to grow and expand, become a unique individual.

But there’s still the question of plot.  The start is good for the first ten chapters, then begins to muddy up and wobble a bit.  And the ending needs a nice climax, something that the character can work towards and learn from.  I’m working on one that will make sense with the stories I want to tell, but I haven’t fully developed the concept.

I’m working, aiming to be done with this project by the end of July. I’m hoping this is the draft that I’ll submit to an editor and work out for publication. If not, at least I’m writing.