Thursday, July 17, 2008

Editing with an Eye to Submission

You can tell that Amnesia Door isn't my first picnic.

First, I'm cutting pretty mercilessly. Second, I'm cutting with an eye towards submissions.

How bad is that?

In my experience, most agents/editors ask you to submit either the first three chapters or the first fifty pages. So, I've made sure to concentrate a lot of key info and "hooking" ideas in the first three chapters. The basic set-up is there, as well as a few well placed (but maybe too heavy) hints about the future: basically, I set-up the characters and the world and hint at the conflict that leads to the plot. In general, I think it's probably a good idea to get this info out by the first three chapters, so altering my book to fit this is probably a key thing.

But...one of the best scenes (in my humble opinion) is when one character reveals to the other characters the "big secret" that the other characters then spend most of the rest of the book trying to solve. It is supposed to be a touching, shocking scene that should illicit both pity and a desire for the other characters to set off on their mission. In other words, this is a pretty pivotal scene.

But it ends on page 64.

So now I'm asking myself...should I cut a chapter before this to make the scene get to the 50 page cut that many agents ask for? By page 50, Harry discovers he's a wizard in HP and the Sorceror's Stone. By 52, Meg has started looking for her father in A Wrinkle in Time. Way before page 50, Lucy's entered the wardrobe, and so has Edmund, and by the 50 mark, Susan and Peter are talking to the professor about it.

Now, I know that 14 pages are not that big a deal. But I also know that many agents/editors are only getting those first fifty pages, and won't see the next 14 with the big reveal. And, given the evidence of other books, I probably should move the scene up. But moving the scene up means that I have to cut--I can't rearrange these scenes.

When I said I was cutting mercilessly, I meant a few paragraphs here, a few pages there. Wow...14 pages hurts. But...I'd better go get my Spartan to sharpen his blade a bit more...
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