Sunday, May 24, 2009

Cut It Out

Christy here.

When I say "cut it out" I'm talking about the unnecessary parts of your story. I'm talking the fluffy parts where you got excited over word choice and went on and on for several pages of narrative and didn't say a whole lot of anything.

We get this way sometimes. We get lost in the worlds we've created on paper. The language becomes so flowery and pretty that we feel our manuscripts would fall short with out it.

Well, I'm here to tell you less is more.

So Cut It Out.

Especially if you're submitting a partial to an agent or editor. And even more so if you're entering a contest. Give the judges the best part of your work. And yes, it'd better be in the first 15-25 pages because the last 3/4 of the book won't be there for them to boo-hoo and rave over.

Jump right into the point of conflict, where the action is. Don't tell us how the kitty found the huge tree and decided to meander up to its highest limb. No! Start your story where the kitty's in the tree meowing for his life and your heroine is trying to climb up the tree to get it herself when the handsome firefighter or policeman or good looking neighbor or whomever your hero is to try and save her. Bring us in on the action with brief snippets of who these characters are. And cut out the fluff until the reader is hooked and then you can give them a breather.
The content that is necessary for your full and final manuscript may not be necessary for your contest entry.

But what I've discovered, in preparing my manuscript for contests is there may be some scenes that aren't necessary. (How the kitty found the tree - we don't care and don't need to know that).

When submitting to a contest that only requires the first 15 pages, you want to pack a punch. Heroine falls out of the tree while trying to get the kitty and Hero comes to the rescue.

I hope your story is more interesting than my example, but I think you're getting my drift.

Contest entries may require the first 15 pages, the first 25 pages, and even the first 35 - 50 pages. On these pages should be your best writing. That sums it up for today. Write your best. Be hard on yourself. Be diligent. Don't give up. Don't love yourself too much. Cut the fluff you loved for the first read but by the second read even you were getting sleepy. That's fluff you don't want in your contest entry.

Do all of these things, be deligent in prayer and turn out the best manuscript every time.


  1. Christy,

    Great article and good advice for someone like me who needs to know all I can before entering contests.


  2. Thanks Edwina, and good luck in the contests you're entering!

  3. Christy,
    Great post. I spent the weekend cutting out unnecessary words and phrases.
    I always thought it would be easier to add words than to cut words. Not!!

  4. Very good point, Christy! I've found this out during the editing process. There's nothing like having an editor draw a big X through a whole scene (page after page) to get the point across! :)

    And every time, I can see exactly why she did it. So I'm learning!