Saturday, June 6, 2009

Gnashing My Teeth

For the first time in a long time I'm having trouble ending.

I'm at the tail end of my latest (you all remember, the novel I wasn't supposed to be doing but couldn't shut the characters up enough to not do? Yes, that one.). When I do a read-through, it just zips along, as a good mystery novel should.

Note that I didn't say when I did the one read-through. No. Because I've had to do more than a couple. Several, even. And I think I have to do one again.

Because this book wants to be longer than I want it to be, I think.

Of course, there were the characters who tried to get themselves introduced at 90,000 words in. I was kind but firm. Had to cut them. That's the firm part. They can show up in the second book in this series. That was the kind part.

And then there was the boring 'let's all get together and hang' part that I cut out. Found a better, more action-oriented way to do same. So far, so good. Only...

Only, I swear that it's impossible to hit the word count I was going for unless I gut a third of the book. And, in the read-throughs, the part that needs gutting and streamlining is...sigh...the end. Not that I'm done yet, mind you. While I am an 'edit as you go' writer, normally, at this point in the MS (you know, the END points) I'd finish and cut after it was done. But, I can't. I just cannot. Which means, of course, that something's wrong (again) and I need to read-through (again) and figure out what to cut and change (again).

Of course, as my spouse and crit partner tell me, maybe this book is just supposed to be longer than I'd thought.


I'll bet Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Dame Agatha Christie didn't have this problem. I'll bet their books behaved. I'll bet they fell right into place without any wrangling at all.

Oh well. Off to do some more mental wrestling. I will win, I tell you! I will! Even if I have to decide to let the book be the length it demands. But I'm not going down without a fight.

Or, clearly, without another read-through.

Cheryl Walker

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