Compress Novel


4 Ways to Slim Down Your Novel

After reading over the first section of the novel that I’ve just revised, I realize that I want to cut some of it. It’s not bad the way it is, but cutting 10-20% will help.

Beats. One way to do this is to look at the individual beats or actions within a scene. Is each one necessary? Can I shorten each scene in the novel by 10%?

Cut scenes. I also realize that I might could cut one small scene entirely. The problem is that this scene is in the alternate POV, so if I cut it, then I have to give this character a different POV-scene.

Combine scenes. I don’t want too much going on in one scene, it needs to stay focused. But there might be one or two scenes that don’t have a sharp enough focus in this novel. If I take the narrative parts, information that needs to be given to the reader, and put that into other scenes, spread it around, I might be able to eliminate a scene.

Brisker Prose, Please. One critiquer of a novel manuscript asked for, “Brisker prose, please.” This is partly using great verbs, cutting adjectives, etc. But it’s also about writing tighter overall.

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1 Comment
  • Kimberlee Conway Ireton
    August 27, 2009


    Killing our darlings is never easy, is it? I appreciate the way you broke it down into smaller chunks, cutting away a sentence here, a paragraph there. That makes it seem a lot more manageable than trying to cut a big chunk…and maybe seeing how much better it is without the small extraneous stuff will help me recognize the big extraneous stuff that has to go.