A.C.’s Journal: Entry 17 – Thoughts on Cutting Words

Doing a final read-through of Hammil Valley Rising and thinking of what a publisher/editor has on her website:

I often tell writers to cut about a third of the word count without cutting the content – they complain, and I don’t blame them, but they also find it’s one of the best self-teaching tools they will ever find.

As I read text in my manuscript that is somewhat new to me because of the passage of time (hubby took several months to do his read-through and edits, since he works full-time), I think which one of every three words I could cut.

Then I think, “Nuts on this. If Ayn Rand had followed this advice, we wouldn’t have Atlas Shrugged, we’d have Atlas Winked. And Charles Dickens wouldn’t have written his masterpieces Oliver Twist and David Copperfield. I don’t even want to think about how Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice or Victo Hugo’s Les Misérables would have come out after such treatment.

We writers really have to get away from seeing such advice from publishers and editors as golden. Yes, I have seen areas that are rough, where the ideas weren’t coming across clearly, and have fixed them. But this usually entails adding words, not taking them away.

By the way, if Rhett Butler had said in the movie, “Frankly, I don’t really care” (5 words) instead of “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn” (8 words), a lot of impact would have been lost.

Best not to worry about word count and instead focus on ideas, plot, character development, and descriptions. On the other hand, it’s not good to add what isn’t needed. Padding out work can be just as bad.

Got the excerpts page for the Freelan Series up sooner than I expected. Hope you’ll check it out.

Wishing you a Happy New Year!


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