Wednesday, November 11, 2015

CRASH EDITS: Trimming Fat From Your Novel



Okay, raise your hand if you like to diet.

Yeah, I thought so, because the truth is NOBODY likes to cut back on things they love, be it food, drink, or the words they bleed into a novel. Especially moi (CDQ Lessman, and no, those aren't my feet ...), whose first manuscript was … ahem … 162,519 words. Apparently my publisher didn’t catch on right away because my next three books ranged from 145,000 up to 167,000 words before the legal department lowered the boom on book 6 in my O’Connor family saga, A Love Surrendered.

        “You want me to cut HOW many words from this book???” 
        “Fifty Thousand,” my editor said softly with a crimp of sympathy in her eyes, "and I’ve  suggested a few ways to do it, Julie, with subplots you can cut.”

A brain freeze Anartica’d my body as my eyes glazed over with frost. “Cut 50,000 words and three subplots???” I rasped, lips turning blue. Might as well cut L-M-N-O-P through Z out of the phone book or dictionary. I mean, seriously???

Yes, seriously. So, yes, I did what any self-respecting author would do when an editor asks for a lb. of flesh—I broke down and cried—right before I went to the shed and sharpened the ax.

And you know what? It’s not really all that hard to trim fat from a novel, so I’m going to share with you today just a few of the tips I’ve learned along the way, starting with the easiest and most obvious ones.


1.) CUT UNNECESSARY SUBPLOTS. This is one of the easiest way to cut words from your novel, as I learned the hard way when I was asked to cut 50,000 words from A Love Surrendered, which okay, I’ll admit, was originally 170,906 words—ouch! But in my defense (I know, there is no defense for an author who writes 171,000-word books), it was the last book in the O’Connor saga with a massive epilogue, so there. AND … the silver lining in all of this was that I cut three subplots, two of which I’ve already used for two Seeker Christmas novellas. So … I’d like to take this moment to send a HUGE hug to my very wise editor and Revell’s excellent legal department!!

2.) CUT UNNECESSARY SUBORDINATE CHARACTER SCENES. Okay, this is a recent one I learned when I pitched my new contemporary, Isle of Hope, to my publisher who actually liked it, but wanted me to cut it in half (cutting a 156,146-word novel down to 78,000, imagine that!) plus wanted me to tone down the spirituality. Well, since the story is loosely biographical and pretty therapeutic for me, both my agent and I decided I should keep it as is and pub it myself, which I’ve done. So if you like deeply romantic stories with deeply spiritual content, this is the book for you. (WARNING: Shameless plug at the end of this blog with giveaway).

However, my agent and I both felt I needed to cut about 10,000 words to tighten it up, so my editor suggested eliminating “unnecessary scenes with subordinate characters,” namely children. You know, things like cute banter you love but doesn’t really add to the plot of a novel? So, take a good hard look at trimming all the extraneous banter with your subordinate characters because more than likely it won’t be missed.

3.) MAKE A GAME OUT OF CUTTING WIDOWS & ORPHANS. And, no, I’m not some sadistic person who hates little old ladies or ragamuffin kids. But when I’m serious about reducing word (and page) count, I literally go through an entire ms. and eliminate widows (single sentence or short paragraph on a page by itself at the end of a chapter) or orphans (single word or two on a line by itself at the end of a sentence). I tackle each one like a game—cutting words from sentences and paragraphs around or before the widows and orphans until those puppies are gone. And you know what? I actually have a blast doing this!

4.) CUT THE WORD “THAT.” Did you know that you can eliminate the word “that” most of the time? 

Such as in “Did you know you can eliminate the word “that” like you did in this sentence? When I cut A Passion Most Pure down, one of the ways I did it was by going through the entire book and eliminating every “that” that I could … uh, I mean eliminating every “that” I could … :) Here’s a clearer example:

Clara shook her head as she watched the newlyweds duck into the taxi that was waiting at the curb.

Clara shook her head, watching the newlyweds duck into the taxi waiting at the curb.

5.) CUT DOWN SENTENCES LONGER THAN THREE LINES.  When I’m editing to lower word count, this is a little rule of thumb that I use constantly, eyeballing sentences that take up more than three typed lines. When I see them, I immediately pare the sentence down. Following are some before-and-after examples of my copy as originally written, followed by the pared-down version.

Here’s a sentence in which I eliminated eight words by deleting unnecessary phrasing (in blue) for what I think is a cleaner, sharper sentence. 

The door slammed behind them, and Katie found herself racing to catch up with Betty as she marched down the glossy wooden hall lined with closed doors, high heels clunking like a small army.

The door slammed behind them, and Katie raced to catch up as Betty marched down the glossy wooden hall, high heels clunking like a small army.

No amount of paring down is too small. Here’s an example of eliminating one unnecessary word because it’s already understood.

“You jump higher than Luke does when I sneak up on him.”

“You jump higher than Luke when I sneak up on him.”

Phrases of three words can often be pared down to one or two words as seen in these two examples where I cut the underlined words for the final copy:

Both words and air pasted to the roof of Sean’s mouth as his eyes flipped open, glazed in shock at the picture of Mr. Kelly looming in the door, slack-jawed at the sight of Sean holding Rose in his lap.

Words pasted to the roof of Sean’s mouth as his eyes flipped open, glazed in shock as Mr. Kelly loomed in the door, slack-jawed over Rose in Sean's lap.

Here’s a progression of edits where I’ve underlined phrases and words that I eliminated in the next version because they are already understood from the action in the scene. Note the deletion of the phrase “hustled at a brisk pace,” which is already understood by the phrase “hot on his heels.”

ORIGINAL COPY:
Bobby screeched to a stop, his spindly chest heaving from his sprint to catch up with Sean. Twenty feet behind him, his mother was walking at a brisk pace, obviously hot on his heels.

FIRST EDITED VERSION:
Bobby screeched to a stop, spindly chest heaving from his sprint to catch up. Twenty feet behind, his mother hustled at a brisk pace, obviously hot on his heels.

FINAL VERSION:
Bobby screeched to a stop, spindly chest heaving. His mother hustled twenty feet beyond, hot on his heels.

First drafts are the perfect place for purple prose—all those wonderful words that come to mind to describe something, but in the edit phase, take half of the words out, especially the ones that “tell” rather than “show” OR the extra adjectives that only muddle the water, as indicated in the before-and-after clips below where the underlined words were cut.

ORIGINAL COPY:
Whether entranced by the beauty of Savannah Bridge at twilight, its watercolor wash of purples or pinks spilling into the rippling waters, or whether his footsteps were muffled by the sounds of foghorns and traffic, she didn’t seem to hear his approach.

EDITED COPY:
Whether entranced by Savannah Bridge at twilight, a watercolor wash of purples or pinks spilling into the water, or the sounds of foghorns muffling his footsteps, she didn’t hear his approach.

***
ORIGINAL COPY:
The gurgle of a fountain happily melded with Mrs. O’Bryen’s off-key humming to create a familiar ambiance that warmed Lacey as much as the summer sun peeking through leafy branches that swayed in the salty breeze.

EDITED COPY:
The gurgle of a fountain happily melded with Mrs. O’Bryen’s off-key humming, warming Lacey as much as the sun peeking through leafy branches that swayed in the salty breeze.
***
ORIGINAL COPY:
A familiar calm suddenly buoyed her with hope like the colorful flags on the various sailboats, billowing in the breeze, their tall masts jutting in the air like arms lifted to heaven while they bobbed on the water. 

EDITED COPY:
A calm suddenly buoyed her with hope like the colorful flags billowing in the breeze, their tall masts like arms lifted to heaven while the sailboats bobbed on the water. 


6.) FINALLY, CUT DOWN SPEAK ATTRIBUTIONS. Use speaker attributions (he said, she said) sparingly and mix in beats instead (actions to show whose speaking rather than a speaker attribution).

TOO MANY SPEAKER ATTRIBUTIONS:
“Patrick, you’re tired, and you’ve been drinking. Come to bed, and we’ll discuss it in         the morning,” she whispered.
“Did you kiss him?” he said.
“No, of course not!” she responded.
“Did he kiss you?” he asked again.
She gasped for breath.
“Answer me!” he screamed.
“Yes!” she said.
“Well, Mrs. O’Connor, and how do I compare?” he asked.

LESS SPEAKER ATTRIBUTIONS:
Patrick, you’re tired, and you’ve been drinking. Come to bed, and we’ll discuss it in         the morning.”
“Did you kiss him?”
“No, of course not!”
“Did he kiss you?”
She gasped for breath.
He gripped her arm and shook her. “Answer me!”
“Yes!”
His eyes glittered like ice. “Well, Mrs. O’Connor, and how do I compare?” 

***

So there you have it—just a few of the ways I whittle my manuscripts down to size, so now it’s YOUR turn. 

GIVEAWAY!
Post a before and after of ONE of your sentences that you’ve pared down or give me ONE or TWO of your lanky sentences, and let’s see what we can do with it, okay? Everybody who comments is eligible to win their choice of any of my signed books, INCLUDING the paperback or ebook version of my new contemporary, Isle of Hope.


WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING ABOUT ISLE OF HOPE:

“I don't think anyone can walk away after reading this book without being changed."  Kav, Best Reads Blog

“Be prepared to question your beliefs about forgiveness.” — Beth K. Vogt, award-winning author of Crazy Little Thing Called Love.

“Isle of Hope will tear out your heart and put it back together, a little sore for the process but sweetly soothed all the same.  It’s emotional and raw and convicting … but healing.” — Carrie, Reading is My SuperPower Blog

“Isle of Hope is “too important not to be read. There are so many life lessons in this book that I’ll be thinking about it for years to come. Run don’t walk to the nearest bookstore or online, and then take the journey to Isle of Hope.” — Virginia Rush, Amazon reviewer

“I can count on one hand, in fact, the number of books that I have not merely enjoyed but ingested and absorbed into my soul.  Isle of Hope will now forever (and ever, amen) be included in this list.” — Carrie, Reading is My SuperPower Blog

Isle of Hope may in fact not only be Julie’s best novel so far, but also her most important. — Carrie, Reading is My SuperPower Blog

“I have read a lot of books this year (I would not be surprised if I have read an average of 10 books a week if not more) and this novel ranks close to the very top if not at the top as far as spiritual impact (along with being an over-all well-written and compelling story).” — Katy from The Engrafted Word Blog.

“Julie’s book is as much as devotional as a novel.” — Virginia Rush

ISLE OF HOPE CONTESTBe sure to check out the IOH Contest on the CONTEST tab of my website for a chance to have a character named after you in my next book and a signed copy. Good luck!!

ABOUT JULIE:
Julie Lessman is an award-winning author whose tagline of “Passion With a Purpose” underscores her intense passion for both God and romance. A lover of all things Irish, she enjoys writing close-knit Irish family sagas that evolve into 3-D love stories: the hero, the heroine, and the God that brings them together.
Author of The Daughters of Boston, Winds of Change, and Heart of San Francisco series with Revell Publishing, Julie was named American Christian Fiction Writers 2009 Debut Author of the Year and has garnered 17 Romance Writers of America and other awards. Voted #1 Romance Author of the year in Family Fiction magazine’s 2012 and 2011 Readers Choice Awards, Julie was also named on Booklist’s 2010 Top 10 Inspirational Fiction and Borders Best Fiction list. Her latest novel, Surprised by Love, appeared on Family Fiction magazine’s list of Top Ten Novels of 2014, and her independent novel A Light in the Window is an International Digital Awards winner, a 2013 Readers' Crown Award winner, and a 2013 Book Buyers Best Award winner. Julie has also written a self-help workbook for writers entitled Romance-ology 101: Writing Romantic Tension for the Sweet and Inspirational Markets. You can contact Julie through her website and read excerpts from each of her books at www.julielessman.com.

114 comments:

Marianne Barkman said...

As a reader, I'm not sure I want to see you tighten up your stories. Well, of course I do, but if you left them at 170,000 words, I wouldn't get down so quick and have to wait so long for your next one. Please put my name in the bowl. Surely I'll win one of these contests for your book. Thanks, I did enjoy your post. Have a great day!

Terri said...

I write short, not long. Trust me, it is just as frustrating. When I'm short words anyway and then have to tighten I'm really short. Thankfully that problem seems to be improving. Jewels, your books are awesome!

Cindy W. said...

Thank you for the great post Julie. About a year ago, I noticed I was overusing the word that, not just in a WIP but also in my day job writing emails. One day I cut that out of the email about five times. So it is one word I am very conscious of when writing.

I would love to be entered into your giveaway! Thank you for the opportunity to win.

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Okay, whose feet are those on that scale? I know it's a guy from the hairy legs.

Thank you for this post!!! Hairy legs or not. I am printing this up and since I begged you to write it, I owe you, big time.

Glynna Kaye said...

Good morning, JULIE! Cutting. BLEAH. I'm a single title writer by nature although I write for a "series' line with Love Inspired. So I was always overshooting my word count--on occasion by much as 10-15K words (that's a lot for a 55-60K book). So out go the subplots first thing that were intended to enrich the theme of the story and the readers' understanding of the characters (WAH!). Then trimming, trimming, trimming so that when I send it to my editor the version she first sees hits the word count target. But I'm getting a better handle on it now and not overshooting by such a wide margin!! Thanks for the great tips!

Mary Hicks said...

Great tightening tips, Julie! Appreciated the examples, too. :-)
Better to have too much than not enough is my theory.

Jill Weatherholt said...

Great post, Julie! It's printed and in my Seekerville notebook. I have a tendency to write tight, so I typically don't cut a lot of words. The words I do cut are those that slip in and if removed, don't change the meaning of the sentence.
I'd love to be entered in the giveaway. Your cover is so beautiful!

Rhonda Starnes said...

Wonderful tips, Julie! I don't typically go over on word count, but I definitely need to work on tightening sentences and trimming the fat from my stories. I'll definitely be using your tips.

Jackie said...

Julie I'm so excited about Isle of Hope. (BTW Hope is my one word for 2015.) Your cover is beautiful and the story sounds great.

Thanks for sharing so many great tips.

Just Commonly said...

You know how when someone just received shocking news get? Yes. I think I might've glazed through the rest of your article after reading that you cut THAT much off of Love Surrendered! I'm feeling a little heartache. Once acceptance cuts in, I went back and read it again. OK. At least it wasn't gone forever and we did get the novellas out of it. Whew. And a BIG THANK YOU to you and your agent for not cutting Isle of Hope too much. It really is perfect and I just love it! The spiritual aspect really makes it great.

Thanks for the great tips. I do tend to be long winded in expressing my thoughts, especially writing on my blog, but I by no means ano author. As a reader, I would love to be included in your giveaway, since I'm still trying to collect all paperbacks of your books! Ok, is this too long? Hope not. Thanks Julie! :)

Just Commonly said...

You know how when someone just received shocking news get? Yes. I think I might've glazed through the rest of your article after reading that you cut THAT much off of Love Surrendered! I'm feeling a little heartache. Once acceptance cuts in, I went back and read it again. OK. At least it wasn't gone forever and we did get the novellas out of it. Whew. And a BIG THANK YOU to you and your agent for not cutting Isle of Hope too much. It really is perfect and I just love it! The spiritual aspect really makes it great.

Thanks for the great tips. I do tend to be long winded in expressing my thoughts, especially writing on my blog, but I by no means ano author. As a reader, I would love to be included in your giveaway, since I'm still trying to collect all paperbacks of your books! Ok, is this too long? Hope not. Thanks Julie! :)

Ruth Logan Herne said...

So much energy!!!! This post flows with beautiful Julie energy and I'm energized just thinking of it!!!!

Great ways of cutting, dicing, mincing words. I think what helped me learn to do a story wrap was getting Love Inspired contracts. Then I had to come in at a certain word count, and so that was a great learning curve.

And then our novella collections!

HUGE for learning how to arc a story and wrap it up in 20-25K!!!

But it's tough, isn't it??? Because when we finish a book, we're pretty sure it's all vital, and realizing we might have "FAT" is a tough ego-hit.

sigh.....

Ruth Logan Herne said...

I brought coffee, my friends!

And sending out a big thank you to all who have given of themselves and their lives to serve our country, including Seekers Cara Lynn James, Tina Radcliffe, and Debby Giusti, military wife and mom...

God bless you all.

Wilani Wahl said...

Julie, Thank you for this timely post. I am sure I will need to do a lot of trimming the fat in books that are in various stages. You gave me some ideas in how to get started.

By the way, I am loving Isle of Hope so far and seeing as I love your writing, I am sure that will continue to be the case.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Oh my goodness, my novels do need to go on a diet. Along with me. ha ha

Great tips Julie. I never knew that about the word that.
oops I never knew about the word that.

I am reading Isle of Hope and LOVING it.

Kav said...

Okay -- I'm still reeling over a Christian publisher telling an author to tone down the spirituality! Gah! I don't like this watering down of faith elements in Christian fiction. It makes no sense. I hope they read all your great reviews which comment on that powerful faith element and how life-changing it is. And then I hope they cringe a little because they realize they made a big mistake by not publishing it.

Okay -- rant over. Maybe. For now.

This is perfect timing, Julie. I'm doing this now and it's such a daunting task. Sometimes I feel like I'm editing the life out of the story so these guidelines will really help.

Julie Lessman said...

GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD MORNING, SEEKERVILLE!!

And it is for me, because I just sent final edits on ISLE OF HOPE to the formatter for both the paperback and ebook, so I am breathing a WHOLE lot easier now and ready to rumble!!

I feel like protein this morning, so I've got one of those egg/hash-browns/sausage casseroles in the oven, whole wheat toast with butter and maple-cured bacon and ham. But for those sweet-tooth folks out there, there's also some of my favorite pastries -- icing-glazed mini Danish turnovers in apple, blueberry, cherry, peach, and cheese, so DIG IN!!

HUGS!!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

MARIANNE SAID: "As a reader, I'm not sure I want to see you tighten up your stories. Well, of course I do, but if you left them at 170,000 words, I wouldn't get down so quick and have to wait so long for your next one."

LOL, Marianne, thanks for kicking my day off with such a sweet comment, my friend -- you are a doll! And I'm pulling for you to win one of these giveaways, too, so you go, girl!!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Aw, thanks, Terri, for your kind words, but "short" is something I truly admire since sweet Dawn Ford brought Splickety to Seekerville last week. Unfortunately, it's not one of my gifts. :( Because let's face it -- if you took all my 500-page+ books and cut those suckers in half, I'd have 23 books and 3 novellas out there earning their pay instead of only 11 doorstoppers and 3 novellas. Sigh. Mama told me not to write such long books, but I didn't listen ... or maybe it was Ruthy ... ;)

Hugs and GOOD LUCK!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

CINDY ... yeah, I hear you, girlfriend. I actually have a couple of "that that"s in Isle of Hope, I think, but sometimes "that" (in rare cases), can't be helped. :)

Hugs and GOOD LUCK in the contest, my friend!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

LOL, TINA ... I'm not tellin'! ;)

Actually, no, they are some unknown model's feet since Keith was busy with a rush job yesterday or those feet WOULD have been mine on MY scale. But the man spared you all since there is NOTHING pretty about my feet with bunions so big, I could almost fly. I even HATE the word "bunion" so much, that I looked up the medical term in the hopes it would be a bit better. It wasn't -- "hallux valgus" -- so I'm stuck. Went to the podiatrist just a few weeks back to check into surgery to remove them, and he refuses to do anything with them since they don't hurt. Sigh. So it appears I am cursed to endure ugly feet for the rest of my years.

The sad part is I actually used to think my feet were kind of pretty with the bunions (when they were a bit smaller and I didn't know what a bunion was) because I liked the angle they created. It wasn't until my daughter -- validated by my husband -- informed me that NO, those "angles" weren't pretty -- they were bunions. Double sigh. My confidence level took a serious hit that day and hasn't recovered since ... :)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Oh, GLYNNA ... that doesn't surprise me a bit about you because your stories are so rich and deep, I could easily see you writing much bigger books!

You said: "So out go the subplots first thing that were intended to enrich the theme of the story and the readers' understanding of the characters (WAH!)."

Oh, PRECISELY!! That's why I love subordinate characters and subplots soooooo much -- they reallllly enrich the story and deepen the characters and feel of the book. But you're right, with a word count of 55-60K for LI, not much else you can do.

Gosh, 55-60K word count??? Now I am depressed because that would be THREE of my books, which means I would now have 33 novels and 3 novellas out, catching up with Mary and Ruthy. More sighs coming my way ... :)

Hugs,
Julie

Cindy Regnier said...

Hi - I hate cutting. Short and sweet. Good ideas to make it a little less painful. I usually run a grammatical check in Word which will tell me average length of words and average sentences per paragraph. I also give some attention to the grade level. Without making it too easy, the easier the better. Does that make sense? Helps me look at it from a reader's perspective vs. the writer, also to think about length of sentences as I'm writing.

Julie Lessman said...

YAY, MARY ... a woman after my own heart! Yes, it IS "better to have too much than not enough," in my opinion as well, because I don't know, mind you, but I suspect it's easier to cut copy than add it? Maybe some of our LI authors can jump in here and answer that question for me ... :)

Hugs and GOOD LUCK!

Julie

Julie Lessman said...

JILL!!! You have a "Seekerville notebook"???? WOW, WOW, WOW ... what an absolutely GREAT idea, my friend, and a real compliment to Seekerville, so THANK YOU!!

A "tight writer," eh? Well, I'm jealous, and judging from what I can see of you in your picture, there's no excess anywhere else either, you little brat! ;)

Thank you SO much for your sweet comment about my cover -- I actually love it a lot, too! I didn't want to bug my artist hubby with another cover (he did the cover for A Light in the Window using my daughter as the model, so it was quite a production and a lot of work for him), so I followed Ruthy's lead and went to The Killion Group, about whom I cannot brag enough -- they are flat-out WONDERFUL!!

Anyway, since Isle of Hope is as much a women's fiction novel as it is a romance (at least according to my publisher that I pitched it to, telling me to pick one or the other and cut the book in half), I didn't want anything too typically "romancey." In my mind's eye, I kept seeing a couple holding hands in front of a long dock at sunset, so I searched for pix, asked my hubby to slap them together in a cover mock-up, which didn't take him long, and sent it to Killion. What they came up with was SO much better than I even imagined, so I am thrilled that you like it AND especially that this high-mainenance, hard-to-please CDQ likes it too. :)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Thanks, RHONDA, I'm glad you'll be able to take something away from today's blog since you are ... ahem ... like that little brat Jill above ... a "tight writer"! ;)

Seriously, I'm jealous of you guys, but I'll just bet you can't prop a door open with any of YOUR books, can you??? ;)

Hugs and GOOD LUCK!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

JACKIE, seriously??? "Hope" is your word for 2015??? Well, then, girlfriend, we definitely have to get that book in your hot, little hands, and we will -- SOON!!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

LOL, ANNIE ... NO, your comment is NOT too long, but then I think you might be asking the wrong person ... ;)

And, yeah, that's exactly what happened to my eyes, too, when my editor told me to cut 50,000 words out of ALS, only it wasn't just my eyes that were glazed -- I had a thin glaze of shock from my brain down to my bunion toes. :)

Thanks SO much, Annie, for your incredible support, my friend, especially last week with the blog tour and your INCREDIBLE review!! You are a true blessing, girl, and I am SO very glad I got to know you better!

Hugs and GOOD LUCK!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Thanks, RUTHY, and I have NO DOUBT WHATSOEVER that LI fine-tuned you into a lean, mean writing machine who packs more into a short novel than the law allows, so I kind of regret that I didn't go that path, you know?

But ... it is what it is, and although I'm not a particularly "fast learner," I DO learn eventually, so rest assured that ALL of my books from here on out will be WAY shorter. It's just that Isle of Hope was so personal to me, so I gave it everything I'v got and then some. WHICH, as we know from how verbose I can be -- is A LOT!!

And I owe you a debt of thanks for prodding us to do the Seeker novellas too! I honestly never thought I could write a story that short, but it's been a reallllly good learning experience that I hope to continue for years to come. :)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

OH. MY. GOODNESS!!! Can hardly believe I forgot to acknowledge Veterans Day!!! Please forgive me for not honoring our veterans right out the gate because let's face it, I seriously doubt we would all be where we are today in this great country without them.

Thanks, Ruthy, for bringing it to my attention. I OBVIOUSLY need another cup of coffee ...

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Aw, thanks LANI -- SO appreciate your support and kind comment, my friend, and am anxious to see what you think of IOH when you're done, okay?

Uh ... that is if you like it. If not ... never mind. :)

Hugs,
Julie

Jackie Smith said...

How nice to have Julie here....always an inspiration and energizer...YAY Julie!
I have Isle of Hope on my Kindle and will start reading it just as soon as I finish a library book that I must read/return!! I just finished the Christmas collection, and loved your Best Gift of All. It was so nice to re-connect with those wonderful characters!
Blessings on you and your continued writing, Julie!!!

PS special thanks to you military ladies...Tina, Cara, Debby!

Julie Lessman said...

SANDRA, really? You'd never heard that about "that"??? Gosh, that makes me feel better because I kept thinking it was a silly inclusion into this blog because everybody has already heard that, right??? Thanks for proving me wrong, my friend! :)

And ...uh-oh ... nail-biting time here. I always get a wee bit more nervous when dear friends who are authors read my work, so I hope you like it.

Hugs and more hugs!
Julie

Myra Johnson said...

Julie Lessman giving tips on shortening manuscripts--will wonders never cease--LOL!!!

Seriously, Julie, a great post filled with excellent tips!

Myra Johnson said...

Oh, and I will NOT get into a discussion of deleting "that." I went head-to-head with one of my editors on this topic because she insisted on cutting so many that some sentences no longer made any sense at all. It's a perfectly good word when used appropriately.

Oh. I guess I DID just get into this discussion! Oops!

Laura Conner Kestner said...

Thank you, Julie! Very timely read for me. I just completed my first book and although I knew in my heart that it was too long, I couldn't make myself start chopping on it. By using your tips and suggestions I can begin to "chip" away at it instead. Maybe chipping will feel less painful than chopping :-) Off now to search my manuscript for any unnecessary "that" and I will then move on to sentences and subplots.

Thanks again, and please enter me in the giveaway.

Connie Queen said...

I also write short. I spend more time going back to add more words. And the opposite doesn't work. I can't go back and "that" a bunch of times or add unnecessary words. I could add a subplot if it added to the plot...

You got me thinking in reverse Julie.

Thanks. :)

Julie Lessman said...

OKAY, STOP EVERYTHING ... DID I SERIOUSLY JUST HEAR A "RANT" OUT OF OUR SWEET KAV?????

Talk about a brain freeze, girl, because I can't picture a sweetheart like you -- gentle, kind, an encourager to the core -- actually "ranting."

You said: "Okay -- I'm still reeling over a Christian publisher telling an author to tone down the spirituality! Gah! I don't like this watering down of faith elements in Christian fiction. It makes no sense. I hope they read all your great reviews which comment on that powerful faith element and how life-changing it is. And then I hope they cringe a little because they realize they made a big mistake by not publishing it. Okay -- rant over. Maybe. For now."

LOL, Kav, you are soooooo darn cute, I wish I could hug you right now!! Actually, both my publisher AND my editor are AMAZING because they have let me get away with overt spirituality for years now, so I applaud them for that. And I totally understand where they are coming from in wanting to reach a broader readership, and let's face it, too much talk about God limits that in today's market. And to be honest, with the problems CBA publishers are experiencing with having to cut their lists way back due to a drop in sales across the board, they are looking for ways to save money, and longer books are not part of that plan.

Yes, I knew the overt spirituality in IOH would bother some people and most likely hurt sales, but I'd prayed about, listened to the counsel of my very wise agent, and then decided this wasn't just my book -- it was God's. And if He wanted me to tick some people off with too much spirituality, then so be it. I have to admit that I am TOTALLY and COMPLETELY blown away by the reviews I'm getting, ESPECIALLY yours, my friend, because they SO validate what my heart was telling me to do with this book.

So THANK YOU, Kav, for being such a kind and encouraging supporter to Christian authors today -- you are a TRUE blessing to me and so many others.


Hugs and more hugs,
Julie

Cate Nolan said...

Good morning, Julie.

I am this post. The first draft of my next LIS came in at 90,000 words. Given the expected length of 55k, that's almost enough for 2 books! Let the cutting ensue!

Cate Nolan said...

I love you, MYRA!!!!!

Kisses. Yes, there are times THAT cutting THAT completely changes the meaning or the pacing.

Kathryn Barker said...

Wonderful tips, Julie, on cutting down wordiness in a manuscript! Thanks. My friend from our writers group helped me with watching out for that and speaker attributions...which I adore! I'm gonna print this off and keep it handy!!

Don't have much time for tea and goodies this morning, but always have to stop in and read the Seekerville post...even if I can't stay long!! Would have loved to find a sentence and have you help, but in a rush right now.

Take care, enjoy this gorgeous Wednesday and see ya tomorrow!! Congratulations on your new book...I'm excited to read it!!

Pam Hillman said...

And this is how you accomplish "tight writing". I need to bookmark this for when I get to edits in a couple of weeks. Great examples, Julie! :)

Janet Dean said...

Julie, I'm awed with this post! First, I'm awed anyone can write novels that long. ;-) Just teasing, dear friend! Mostly I'm awed by the excellent strategies you used to cut words. Even without the subplots, secondary character scenes, orphans and widows, your stories are strong and descriptive.

One thing that keeps LI writers less wordy is we are typically only allowed two POVs--the hero and heroine's--so we can't have a scene with secondary characters unless one of those two is there.

Janet

Julie Lessman said...

Hey, JACKIE, I am sooooo thrilled to hear that IOH is next up on your TBR -- YAY!! I hope you like it as much as I do, my friend, and if you do and post a review, PLEASE let me know so I can enter you in my newsletter contest, okay?

And same goes for Home for Christmas, too -- let me know if you post a review there too, okay? Thank you SO much for your kind words and just reading it in the first place.

You know, I actually expected to get a few really negative reviews on The Best Gift of All because it partially deals with a touchy subject in today's world, which is corporal punishment, but so far, so good. :)

Hugs and HAPPY READING, my friend!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

LOL, MYRA ... no, wonders never DO cease!! Which means I'm reallllly gonna blow you away when I attempt flash fiction ... ;) Of course, I'll start with the 1,000-word stories instead of the 100-word ones, which practically wouldn't cover a sentence in one of my books! :)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

LOL ... I hear you, Myra! I personally love "that" in the right context, so I do leave a fair amount in. Uh, except when I have to cut 50,000 words, that is. ;)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

LAURA SAID: "By using your tips and suggestions I can begin to "chip" away at it instead. Maybe chipping will feel less painful than chopping :-)"

YAY, Laura, sooooo glad this post came at the right time for you, girl. And I LOVE your term of "chipping" over "chopping" anyday. Kind of like going to the hairdresser -- I'd much rather she cut off an inch at a time rather than whacking half my hair, you know??

Hugs and GOOD LUCK!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

CONNIE SAID: "You got me thinking in reverse Julie."

LOL, Connie ... that's better than in circles, like I do to my hubby ... ;)

YOU ALSO SAID: "I also write short. I spend more time going back to add more words. And the opposite doesn't work. I can't go back and "that" a bunch of times or add unnecessary words. I could add a subplot if it added to the plot..."

:) NO ... the opposite definitely does NOT work or you would have more "thats" than other words! But, YES, adding a subplot OR deepening your subordinate characters is a double plus because not only do you lengthen your book, but you flesh it out a bit more as well, both in the plot AND with the main characters. :)

Hugs and GOOD LUCK!!
Julie

Myra Johnson said...

I love you, too, CATE!

Julie Lessman said...

LOL, CATE, no!!! Oh, WOW, you must have a little Julie and Ruthy blood in your veins, girl, so YES -- "Let the cutting ensue!" Hopefully I've helped a little bit with that ... :)

Hugs and GOOD LUCK (with the cutting especially!)
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

CATE SAID: "Kisses. Yes, there are times THAT cutting THAT completely changes the meaning or the pacing."

SHRIEK!!!! Do NOT ... I repeat ... do NOT mention the word "cutting" in the same sentence as "kisses," please!! ;)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Hey, KATHRYN, sooooo appreciate you taking the time to pop in Seekerville, no matter how short, my friend, so BLESS YOU!! Saying one for you right now that you have a supernaturally productive day!

And thanks for your sweet comment on my book -- hopefully you can read it by winning it here!

Hugs and GOOD LUCK!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

THANKS, PAMMY!

By the way, I'm curious -- do you ever overwrite? What's the longest word-count you've written in a novel??

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Hey, JANET, thanks SO much for your sweet comment, my friend, and good point on the LIs! I always have at least four POVs in my books and sometimes more, so that tends to fatten up a novel A LOT!! :|

Hugs,
Julie

Barbara Scott said...

Julie, this is the perfect day for me to hop back into Seekerville. You rock, girlfriend! I've been laid low for the last two weeks after "tweaking" my back.

Anyway, I just went through the exercise of cutting 20,000 words out of my manuscript so my agent could submit it to Love Inspired. Yikester! I tried cutting a word here or there...maybe a sentence. That's when I realized whole scenes had to go and I had to rewrite the others so the book still held together structurally.

My efforts have paid off! Not that Tina James at LI has promised me anything, but she came back with detailed notes to make the story fit their guidelines. Wowzer!! It will mean a complete rewrite, but I'm so excited (i.e. totally STOKED) for the opportunity.

NOTE TO NEW AUTHORS: If an editor takes the time to write more than "Sorry, your manuscript doesn't fit our current needs," tackle the challenge head-on and don't feel sorry for yourself. Forty years ago, I wrote a novel and sent it to Zebra. When the editor wrote back with notes, telling me all the ways I could improve the manuscript, I was devastated. I convinced myself I had no talent and I should toss the manuscript into a bottom drawer. BIG MISTAKE!! If I had buckled down then and made the changes, who knows where I'd be now?

I'm so glad our God is a God of second chances!!

Janet Dean said...

Barbara, talk about cutting words! I had to do that, too, with my debut to fit the LI guidelines. I'm thrilled Tina James is interested in your manuscript! Praying she'll snap it up.

Thanks for the reminder to others that an editor doesn't go to the trouble of giving revision notes unless she's interested in the story!!

Janet

Missy Tippens said...

Great post, Julie! I hadn't even thought of some of your ideas for cutting--like the widows and orphans. And your examples were really helpful! Thanks for sharing your experience.

I'm excited about your new book release!

Missy Tippens said...

Barbara, that's great news on the editor feedback!! That's how I made my first sale to LI. I revised my manuscript twice. :) Wishing you the best on yours!

Missy Tippens said...

Connie Q, I used to write short. And then suddenly, I was writing long! Neither is easy to fix.

Melody said...

I won your book the other day - so don't enter me.

Coming from a non-book author (other than cookbooks), I love reading your TEACHING writing's. They make so much sense, with a sense of humor!

Myra Johnson said...

YAY, BARBARA! And believe me, I relate! Rancher for the Holidays had to go through some intense rewriting to fit the Love Inspired parameters. Hoping we'll get to see your story in the LI lineup very soon!

Barbara Scott said...

JANET, MISSY, MYRA...Thanks for the words of encouragement! It's comforting to know you guys have all gone through this process. :)

Sherida Stewart said...

Great ideas, Julie! However, I usually don't have enough words in my stories......and I still have unnecessary words! In checking something I recently wrote: "I felt I had to have a story..." This should be "I needed a story....." Thanks for teaching me to look carefully for unnecessary words. Okay, strike the carefully. :(

Veterans Day thanks to Tina, Cara and Debby!

Wonderful news, Barbara!

Julie, I'm so glad you listened to God's voice about keeping the strong faith elements in Isle of Hope......such a powerful book! Blessings!

Julie Lessman said...

WOW, BARBARA, what a power-packed comment, girlfriend, and SUPER CONGRATS, indeed, on getting an editor to write more than "Sorry, your manuscript doesn't fit our current needs," because that is SOOOO very promising!!! I would have killed if even one of the 46 rejections I got on A Passion Most Pure had been even remotely nice. They were all pretty sterile and one didn't even give me the courtesy of a formal response with letterhead -- just slashed her R across my query letter with something like, "no interest in this project at this time." So, GOOD FOR YOU, girl, for the interest you obviously stirred AND your incredible attitude!!

And, DOUBLE WOW -- 20,000 words is no picnic to cut, yet it sounds like you did it well or you wouldn't be getting nod. :)

I'm SO very sorry about your back and hoping it's completely better now. Back or hip pain is NO fun and can really sap a person's energy and motivation.

Saying a prayer for supernatural favor with LI for you RIGHT NOW, my friend, so you go, girl!!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

That's SO true, Janet! I honestly don't know any debut LI author who got a clean pass the first time around ... OR any other author, either, except maybe Deb Raney, who actually had two editors fighting over her first book she ever wrote, A Vow to Cherish, which was then promptly made into a movie. But even Deb herself says that is pretty much a blue moon and is rarely the case.

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Thanks, Missy! I can't remember if I sent the Seekers the Word doc to Isle of Hope or not, but if I did and you haven't read it yet, DON'T!! I just finished my final edits yesterday, so I will have a spanking new mobi file to send to you guys.

Glad some of my tips were helpful, too! :)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Aw, MEL, thank you SO much for the sweet comment, and I am beyond thrilled you won Isle of Hope since you are one of my favorite reader friends, so you go, girl!! Hope you enjoy it, and if you do and post a review, PLEASE let me know so I can enter you in my newsletter contest, okay?

Hugs and more hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

SHERIDA SAID: "I usually don't have enough words in my stories......and I still have unnecessary words!"

LOL ... well, unnecessary words are a comma dilemma for all of us writers, my friend, from newbies all the way up to NY Times Bestsellers, so you're in good company. :)

And thank you, Sherida, from the bottom of my heart for the incredible review you wrote about IOH AND for knocking yourself out on the blog tour when you weren't even supposed to BE on the blog tour due to your trip!!! You are something else, my friend, and it's pretty easy to see why you are a Seeker favorite. :)

Hugs,
Julie

Caryl Kane said...

HELLO JULIE! I can't wait to read Isle of Hope!

Julie Lessman said...

HELLO, CARYL! I can't wait for you to read it either, my friend, so here's to a win today!!

I'm guessing you are more of a contemporary kind of gal rather than historical, so I'm hoping IOH will be just the ticket. :)

Hugs and GOOD LUCK!!
Julie

Starlight Starbright said...

What is awesome about those rules is that they can be applied to essays/reports as well haha. What I've done a lot (since I am majoring in English) is that I tend to write a lot of fluff that doesn't need to be there in essays. So, I've ended up going over the word count and having to cut them down haha.

Thanks for the helpful tips Julie and I love all of your books that I have read so far :) Currently trying to get my sister to read them :P


-Shannon

Debby Giusti said...

Great tips, Julie, on cutting words.

Were your early book really that long!?! Oh my gosh! Amazing.

I tend to write short and look for ways to add words. Funny, huh?

You know I love the descriptions you use for your characters' facial expressions and body language. You truly are amazing and add such detail that I'm always in awe!

Hugs!

Susan Anne Mason said...

Hi Julie!
I can so relate as I am in the process of chopping 20,000 words from my work in progress. It's slow moving - believe me! So I can't even imagine 50,000!
I'll keep all your wonderful suggestions in mind (already tried the "that" trick, but may need to repeat!)
Wish me luck!
Cheers,
Sue
P.S. Got "Isle of Hope" on my Kindle waiting for me!! :)

Marsha Bernabe said...

Awesome post, good food for thought for us readers to chew on as well!

Julie Lessman said...

SHANNON, GOOD GIRL -- that's what I like to see -- families reading my books!! ;)

Actually got an email from a reader once who said she and her mom didn't get along and had no common ground until they both read A Passion Most Pure, and suddenly talking about the book brought them closer, so that really blessed me!

And your sweet comment blesses me, too, my friend, so THANK YOU and GOOD LUCK!!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

WOW, DEB, thanks SO much for your kind words -- they mean all the more coming from a respected peer and dear friend!

You said: "I tend to write short and look for ways to add words. Funny, huh?"

LOL ... yeah, that makes me smile because that is soooooo not me!! ;) You're blessed!

And, YES, my early books really WERE that long, but my editor never said one word about cutting them even though my contracts all called for a word count of 120,000. It wasn't until the economy got bad that their legal department MADE her make me cut 50,000 words from the last O'Connor book to save money on printing, and honestly, I can't blame them.

But it taught me how to edit, I'll tell you that ... ;)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

YIKES, SUE, 20,000 is nothing to sneeze at, girl, so I'm saying one for you right now! But I have every confidence you can do it, so you go, girl!

Yeah, and that "that" trick is nice, but it sure isn't the way to cut 20,000 ... ;)

YAY!! I hope you like it, my friend!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Thanks, MARSHA ... good to see you here, darlin', and here's to a win!

Hugs,
Julie

Bettie said...

Thought I would share one of my songs with you-'Great Generation-for WW2 Veterans-in memory of my Dad
Chorus: They were called the great generation; they loved this land and nation. They fought the war of poverty, and answered the call to keep us free.
1. Before World War Two, Some were farmers through and through, having only the food their family grew. With one shirt upon their back, they picked up their soldier’s sack,
Defeating the enemies’ attack.
2. Some gave up great applause, but did not even pause When they fought as brothers for the cause. In Germany and France, They took their best chance, and bravely they did advance.
3. Some gave up their souls in deep Hawaiian shoals, Quite surprised by the enemy’s goals. Others gave of their blood In fields of snow, rain, and mud, until victory’s chant stopped the flood.
4. Most came home in victory, to loving friends and family, Who welcomed them with joyous jubilee. They joined the work force team, with hearts and wills full of steam
And they lived the American Dream.
Great article Julie...I tend to not have enough words. Sigh. Please enter me in the drawing.

Sandy Smith said...

Julie, great post. I actually love revising. Cutting words is something I do pretty well. You gave great examples. But I don't have any examples I can give at the moment. Please enter me in the drawing, though.

On another note, I just finished reading A Light in the Window. I loved it and just posted a review on Amazon. But I have a question if anyone else is having trouble posting reviews on Amazon. At first the only thing that came up when I click on write a review is a choice of answers for the question how would I rate the plot. Finally I had the stars come up and then I could write my review. I would like to write some others, but I am having the same problem with them. What's up with that?

Thanks.

Jeanne T said...

I've been trying ALL day to get over here! :) I finally made it, while my son is at drum lessons. But, because I'm not home, I don't have my manuscript before me. I loved your tips, though! When I was revising and editing my manuscript last month, I cut out 10,000 words out in the process. I'm sure, if I'd had more time I would have been able to cut more.

I sitll want to be in your drawing, so can I offer a tip a friend shared with me that goes along with something you said? She said if I have two descriptors/adjectives, get rid of one of them. That's a rule of thumb I've tried to follow.

I LOVE your tips and examples, Julie. And, I can hardly wait to read your book.

Trixi said...

Nope, I got nothing..........

Other than agreeing with Kav with the watered down version of Christianity in books! I like a strong faith-filled theme throughout a story, one where you definitely KNOW the characters are God followers. Now the other side of the coin, a good balance of everything is better in my opinion! So you just listen to the Author of your life Julie in what HE has you to write :-) Now, how can you go wrong there?

Please enter my name for a book, thanks for the chance! Blessings to you, dear one :-)

Tanya Agler said...

Dear Julie, Thank you for the editing tips. I'm going to play fangirl for a minute. I am presently reading book 2 of your Daughters of Boston series, A Passion Redeemed. Yesterday, I went online to check out the order of the series, and I'm so excited to find out Emma comes back and is a main character in another book. And, of course, I love Beth and Brady in both book 1 and 2 so I will be reading Book 3. So please put me in the drawing because I would love to read book 3 sooner rather than later.

As far as my sentences, I was just reviewing my deleted scenes file for my latest book. I write short sentences. You actually taught me today I need to go back and add some lengthier sentences. I'm putting one book down for 6 weeks while I write another and then I will go back and trim the final 8,000 words to get the word count where it needs to be for the line I'm targeting.

Thanks so much for the tips. Sentence variety continues to be something I grapple with and judging from the one tip, I might actually have to start writing some longer sentences.

(Thanks to all the veterans, especially Tina, and families of those who have served our country).

Julie Lessman said...

BETTIE ... seriously? Did you write that? Because it's absolutely BEAUTIFUL, my friend, -- it captured me as if I were reading a novel and actually brought tears to my eyes!!

And gosh, Bettie, guess what? You seem to be in the majority if you don't have enough words, because that's mostly what I've seen today.

Wish I could give you some of mine -- I have too many!!

Hugs,
Julie

Bettie said...

Thank you!

Julie Lessman said...

SANDY ... isn't editing fun, Fun, FUN??? I absolutely LOVE it, so I'm glad you like it too.

And THANK YOU, THANK YOU for posting such a nice review for A Light in the Window -- I have entered you in my newsletter contest with a point because of it, so you go, girl!! And do let me know if you write anymore so I can give you those points too, okay?

I haven't written a review in a while, so I'm not sure what's going on, but I appreciate you taking the time to do it, especially with the problems you encountered.

And GOOD LUCK in this contest, too, my friend!

Hugs,
Julie

Lyndee H said...

Sorry so late. This has been an extraordinary day for my family. We are walking in pure faith right now. But wanted to thank you, Julie. I always read and reread your posts. The examples help me understand so much more than I can tell you. Congrats on the new book!

Julie Lessman said...

JEANNE!! SOOOOO glad you made it, my friend, because now you're in the draw, so GOOD LUCK!!

And, WOW, 10,000 words -- that's a hefty chunk, girlfriend, so good for you!! And thank you SOOO much for mentioning your girlfriend's tip about if one has two descriptors/adjectives, get rid of one of them. THAT'S excellent, and actually something I've been trying to do myself, although I haven't been real good at it. :|

Thanks for coming by and here's to a win!

Hugs,
Julie


I LOVE your tips and examples, Julie. And, I can hardly wait to read your book.

Julie Lessman said...

TRIXI!!! Soooooo fun to see you here, you sweet thing!

You said: "Nope, I got nothing.......... Other than agreeing with Kav with the watered down version of Christianity in books!"

LOL ... that's not "nothing," girlfriend, that's definitely something, so THANK YOU!!

You also said: "I like a strong faith-filled theme throughout a story, one where you definitely KNOW the characters are God followers. Now the other side of the coin, a good balance of everything is better in my opinion."

Well then, you are gonna like Isle of Hope just fine, then, over and above having your name in it, so I'm excited!!

And you are SO right -- how can I go wrong listening to the "Author" of my life??

You are entered in the drawing for your choice of my books, sweetie, so GOOD LUCK!!

Hugs and more hugs,
Julie

bonton said...

Wonderful fun, learning post - as always, Julie. Thank you!!

You and I both know the advantages, for both the reader and I, if I could perfect the tips in your post, lol!! As a reader who can't get enough of your writing - a book with 1 million words would be heaven for me, although I understand a publisher's viewpoint. Your solution is perfect - pitching shorter books to publishers and self-pubbing the longer ones for "Julie addicts". I appreciate being able to read the cuts from your books via your novellas, but revel in the indulgence of additional beautiful quotes, characters, and plots in the longer novels.

By the way, be happy with those bunions - as long as they don't hurt. I've read more than one article claiming many foot surgeries aren't successful - I have to agree, my mother and aunt have each had unsuccessful bunion surgeries.

There aren't enough words to express my gratitude for adhering to His leading and writing/self-pubbing God's book, 'Isle of Hope'- it has brought me immeasurable inspiration, joy, and reflection, as it has other readers - and will to so many more!! He always knows best!!

Julie Lessman said...

TANYA!!! Oh, girl, A Passion Redeemed is my FAVORITE of the DOB series, so I hope you like it too. If you don't like Charity too much yet, you WILL, trust me -- she's a royal hoot in the other books, ESPECIALLY Emma's story. :)

And, YES, Emma and Sean are book #5 in the family saga, A Heart Revealed, and that's actually my hubby's favorite of all my books. :)

WOW, Tanya, you sound like you got it all together as far as what you need to do, so you go, girl!

Yes, it's definitely best to mix the sentences up, Tanya, because variety is the spice of life, right?

Hugs, my friend, and GOOD LUCK!!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

No, BETTIE ... thank YOU for posting that beautiful piece on a day when we are celebrating our veterans.

Hugs and more hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Oh, LYNDEE, I am so very sorry you and your family have had a trying day, and I am praying RIGHT NOW for God's grace and peace to surround you all. And "walking in pure faith" is the best place to be because when we are weak, we are strong in HIM.

Hang in there, my friend.

Hugs and more hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

BONNIE, you NEVER fail to make me smile, my sweet friend -- thanks for coming by when I know ALL that you have on your plate.

I appreciate your advice about the bunions -- it makes me feel better about not doing anything about them. I actually didn't go to the doc for vanity, believe it or not, but I don't have real good balance, and the older I get, the more I worry I will fall and break something. I heard once that the army didn't accept men with bad bunions because it hurts their balance, so that's why I went to the doc. He told me that was crazy, so I guess I'm stuck with the balance problem. Sigh. It's SO fun getting older, isn't it??

You said: "Your solution is perfect - pitching shorter books to publishers and self-pubbing the longer ones for "Julie addicts".

LOL ... you're right about that! I do love writing those long books, don't I, though? But the next two books in the Isle of Hope series will NOT be as long, I guarantee you. I've got to start cracking down on myself, you know? ;)

Hugs and more hugs,
Julie

DebH said...

hi Julie
This is a great post for MS cutting, even for peeps like me who write short, because, well, there's ALWAYS a word count to match, no matter the length.

Sorry I'm a day late visiting. Spent the day with my Vet (ret NAVY Boatswain's Mate) and two six year old boys. No computer time for mommy. *sigh*

I'm always up for being involved in any Lessman contest, btw. LOVE your writing (and wholesome passion)

Barbara Fox said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Barbara Fox said...

Old sentence(s)- Rylie'd given up the illusion that he wouldn’t attack her when she was pregnant, months ago, but she did her best to protect the baby. The problem was, she wasn’t fast enough any more to keep out of his reach. Dan took two strides toward her and grabbed her by the hair. “Why didn’t you go to the store?” He said through clenched teeth, pulling her head back sharply.

New Sentence(s)- Instinctively her hands covered her swollen belly. Months ago she’d given up the illusion that he wouldn’t attack while she was pregnant. Dan took two more strides and reached out, grabbing a fistful of her hair. “Why didn’t you go to the store?” He said, teeth clenched, pulling her head back sharply.

I apologize for too many sentences, but thank you! I love your advice in this post and will add it to my "saves" for reference as I edit. (Gosh I had to edit my comment!!)

Julie Lessman said...

Hey, DEB, you're not too late, my friend, so no worries. Sounds like a busy day ... AND a fun one! Hope it was.

And THANK YOU for your sweet comment, girl -- SO appreciate your support! You're in the draw, but quick question: did you receive the email I sent you about being an influencer for Isle of Hope? If not, let me know, and I will resend.

Hugs and more hugs!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

BARBARA SAID: "I apologize for too many sentences, but thank you! I love your advice in this post and will add it to my "saves" for reference as I edit. (Gosh I had to edit my comment!!)"

LOL, girl, you are TOO funny about editing your comment!! :)

WOW, BARBARA, you did a GREAT job whittling your sentence down from the original, and I like it a lot the way it is. But just to show you how we can always cut something more from our copy, I'm going to try and whittle it down even more. So here's your final, which I want to emphasize is fine the way it is -- I like it.

Instinctively her hands covered her swollen belly. Months ago she’d given up the illusion that he wouldn’t attack while she was pregnant. Dan took two more strides and reached out, grabbing a fistful of her hair. “Why didn’t you go to the store?” He said, teeth clenched, pulling her head back sharply.

NOW HERE'S AN EXAMPLE OF HOW MUCH FURTHER WE COULD GO, ALTHOUGH I WANT TO STRESS AGAIN -- YOUR SENTENCE ABOVE IS JUST FINE.

Instinctively she palmed her swollen belly. She’d long given up the illusion he wouldn’t attack while she was pregnant. Dan charged forward, yanking a fistful of her hair. “Why didn’t you go to the store?” he hissed, snapping her head back.

Okay, we were able to cut eleven additional words by:

-- eliminating the "that" in the 2nd sentence
-- taking advantage of more forceful verbs so we could eliminate two words from " Dan took two more strides"
-- again taking advantage of more forceful verbs so we could eliminate three words from "he said, teeth clenched, pulling her head back sharply."

Thanks for coming by, Barbara, and good luck with your ms. AND in the contest!

Hugs,
Julie

Barbara Fox said...

Julie- WOW thank you so much. Your rewrite is very powerful and I really like it. I'll have to think more about my words. There's going to be much stripping, snipping and clipping in my ms but I'm using it as platform to learn everything (oops just took the that out) my brain can absorb!
I appreciate you and Seekerville.

Julie Lessman said...

Hey, Barbara, you are MORE than welcome, my friend, but yours is good too, truly. Sometimes more words ARE better, so you really have to go with the rhythm of the work, you know? In fact, I wrote a Seeker blog once on editing for rhythm, so here's the link when you have time to check it out if you are so inclined, okay?

A LIGHT IN THE WINDOW VIDEO

Actually, editing down is really fun and challenging, so I think you may find you really like it the more you do. I know, I do!

Hugs!!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

BARBARA ... WHOOPS!!

Here's the actual Rhythm blog link:


I'VE GOT RHYTHM, BUT NOT IN MY FEET

HUGS!!
Julie

Barbara Fox said...

Julie,
Thank you again. I've Got Rhythm, But Not in My Feet gives clear examples and I see where it not only effects the rhythm but also changes, slightly the feeling of the sentence. The sentence ending with "hurrying upstairs" made me feel like she was determined to be gone. But "hurrying to head up the stairs" made me wonder if she would hesitate at the base of the stairs.

Much to think about. I have an abundance of opportunities to practice rhythm and trimming!

I wonder if you know what a blessing it is to have your comment? Thank you.

DebH said...

hiya Julie
checked my email box and... no email from you. totally possible it got accidentally deleted when I was attempting to read emails from my "smart" phone. *eye roll* you'd think with how much I use a computer, I'd be more tech savvy.

Julie Lessman said...

Aw, BARBARA, I am sooooo glad you considered it a blessing because a tiny part of me worried you would think I was being pushy or critical, which wasn't the case. Okay ... maybe I CAN get pushy ... ;)

Glad I could help out. When you're as old as I am, you're bound to pick up a few tricks to pass on, you know?

Hugs!!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Hey, DEB ... here's the email I have for you -- is it correct? If so, I will resend.

nm8r67 (at) hotmail(dot) com

Hugs,
Julie

The Artist Librarian said...

LOL, I definitely have problems with 3-line sentences like this: "Wayne Thomas Batson burst onto the publishing scene ten years ago with a 'Narnia-esque' novel, The Door Within, and quickly established himself as one of the top Christian Speculative authors for middle grade fiction."

I probably should break it up into two sentences, like "Wayne Thomas Batson burst onto the publishing scene ten years ago with a 'Narnia-esque' novel, The Door Within. He quickly established himself as one of the top Christian Speculative authors for middle grade fiction."

They wanted to tone down the spirituality in Isle of Hope??? Just started it yesterday and as a twenty-something, I think you're capturing us pretty well. =) --Looking forward to finishing it once my classwork is finished!

Julie Lessman said...

JENN!!!

LOL ... yes, I like the two sentences better, but I would have written it like you did with one sentence initially too. :)

Yes, they did, but I'm glad I didn't. It's shocking how positive the reviews have been about the spirituality, so I feel really blessed. :)

LOL ... yeah, not bad for Medicare gal, eh? ;) The truth is I'm a juvenile delinquent at heart, which is why I can do younger characters. :)

Hugs and Happy Reading!
Julie

Sierra Faith said...

Thanks for these tips! I am almost finished with the first draft of a short story, a bunch of editing will be happeneing!

Julie Lessman said...

YAY, SIERRA ... so glad I caught you in time, darlin' -- HAPPY EDITING! :)

HUGS AND GOOD LUCK IN THE CONTEST, TOO!

Julie

DebH said...

Julie
email address is correct. send away...

Julie Lessman said...

You got it, Deb, so will send mobi file as soon as I have, hopefully today.

Hugs!
Julie

Deanne Patterson said...

Well I am not an author but I'm going to take a stab at the two sentences.

As the wind howled I could feel the sense of dread racing up my spine as I paced in my bedroom,that's when I saw the shadow of a man on my wall and I knew I should have arranged the furniture back in their correct spots before it became dark. As I tripped on the out of place furniture I knew I had to get away but I had injured my shin while tripping, trying not to gasp in pain I held my breath as he came closer all the while hoping he wouldn't be able to see me in the dark or sense my fear.

My shortened sentences.

With the wind howling and dread racing up my spine I paced in my bedroom, then there was a shadow of a man on the wall and I knew I should have arranged the furniture back into place before it became dark. As I tripped on misplaced furniture I injured my shin , trying not to gasp in pain I held my breath as he came closer hoping he wouldn't be able to see me in the dark or sense my fear.

I don't like taking words out : ( lol !

Anyways, I gave it a shot because I sure love Julie's books and would love to win one.

Deanne P.




Julie Lessman said...

LOL DEANNE ... I know the feeling, girlfriend ... especially when it's an editor telling you to do it ;)

Good job on cutting your sentence back, my friend, but as I told Barbara above, it's amazing how we can still whittle words down no matter how much we've already edited, if necessary. Let's see if I can pare this down even more ...

Your final version:
With the wind howling and dread racing up my spine I paced in my bedroom, then there was a shadow of a man on the wall and I knew I should have arranged the furniture back into place before it became dark. As I tripped on misplaced furniture I injured my shin , trying not to gasp in pain I held my breath as he came closer hoping he wouldn't be able to see me in the dark or sense my fear.

Edited version:
Wind howling, I hid in my bedroom while dread slithered my spine. A shadow of a man loomed in the hall, and I shrank further into the wardrobe, choking back a gasp when a nail bit into my skin. The shadow grew, and I held my breath, praying he wouldn't sense my fear.

Deanne, just a couple of things that came to mind:

1.) Why is it important to have the sentence about wishing the furniture was in place before dark unless she is blind or if it is dark, how can she see a shadow?

2.) She is pacing in a room where furniture is misplaced, which doesn't fit to me since she doesn't want the person to find her, so she would more than likely be trying to be quiet and hid.

Otherwise, the sense of fear is there, so good job!

HUGS,
JULIE