The 12 Days of Liz: Day Three: Damn Pacing

So I now have 43,000 words of rewritten Liz, although I still have to fix the scene at the door (make it Faye instead of Lavender), the dining room scene, and that godawful sex scene (I believe we discussed that here several months ago), and now I have another problem. This chunk is the first act. Unless I’m writing an epic 150,000 word novel, 43,000 words is too many before a major turning point. That’s not because there’s a magic number, it’s because 43,000 words is too damn many words to read before the story turns and picks up speed. This book was contracted to be 50,000 words, but that ship sailed awhile ago and Jen is fine with it being longer, but she’s not going to be fine with it being slow. So now I have to fix the damn pacing.

The obvious fix is to cut something, but I think I need all of it. Well, I would. So now I have to look at the stuff that actually in there. So there’s:

1. Liz’s need to get out of town and get back to work.
2. Liz’s desire to avoid getting sucked into the wedding mess.
3. Liz’s romantic triangle with Cash and Vince.
4. Liz’s navigation of her guilt-inducing mother and insane aunt.
5. Liz’s strained relationship with her best friend and cousin, Molly.
6. Liz’s growing relationship with Peri.
7. Liz’s first encounter with the future murderer.

That’s a lot of Stuff.

A lot of that Stuff is related, though. #7, the murderer, is actually part of one of the first six, so it’s not really another thread, I just had to put it there to keep it from being a spoiler, although to a reader, it’s going to seem like another thread, so maybe it should be #7.

I can go back to the core conflict which is Liz vs. the murderer so I can’t really talk about it here. So I’ll go back to Liz’s internal conflict, which is that she left Burney at 18, two weeks before she graduated from high school, because of events that came from #3, 4, and 5 (Cash, Mom, and Molly). So she needs to put those three things to rest before she can move on because it’s been fifteen years and she still hasn’t resolved them for herself.

The second part of Liz’s internal conflict is that she’s a fixer who doesn’t want to be a fixer. A lot of her stress in this first act is seeing things she feels need fixed and stopping herself because she doesn’t want to get sucked back into Burney, she just wants to get out of town (but can’t for the first two days because her car is being fixed). So when people try to suck her into the wedding complications (#2), she refuses (negative goal), but when Peri needs her (#6), she has to respond.

So maybe I’ve got two threads:
Liz’s need to come to terms with her past.
Liz’s need to accept the fact that she’s a fixer and a rescuer.

Which might work because it’s those two things that bring her into conflict with the murderer.

So internal conflict:
Liz’s refusal to accept that the past wasn’t what she thought it was and that she’s a fixer who will always need to rescue people.
That’s her internal arc through the novel.

So to apply that to the external plot

1. Liz’s need to get out of town and get back to work is because she’s avoiding her past; when she finally looks at her past with clear eyes, she’ll be able to come back to Burney without dread.
2. Liz’s desire to avoid getting sucked into the wedding mess is because she doesn’t want to fix something she has no business in; when she gets sucked in as part of the external plot, she’ll be forced to become a fixer again.
3. Liz’s romantic triangle with Cash and Vince is about looking at the past with clear eyes (comparison of Cash and Vince) plus recognizing another fixer/rescuer (Vince).
4. Liz’s navigation of her guilt-inducing mother and insane aunt is about looking at the past with clear eyes and then fixing it.
5. Liz’s strained relationship with her best friend and cousin, Molly, is about looking at the past with clear eyes.
6. Liz’s growing relationship with Peri is about looking at the past with clear eyes (she was in Peri’s situation at Peri’s age) and about accepting herself as fixer.
7. Liz’s first encounter with the future murderer is about looking at the past with clear eyes, but also about being a catalyst.

I think that last part is key. Everything is stable in Burney until Liz’s car breaks down, then it all goes to hell because Liz is there, not because of anything she’s doing but because the fact of her presence is like Steven’s jar in Tennessee, all the characters rise up around her and look at themselves in new ways and try to use her for their own ends.

I am, of course, babbling here, trying to figure this out.

So what I have to do, I think, is not so much cut out whole scenes, but stand back and try to see this first act as the set-up for the internal and external plots, and then cut the stuff that’s redundant, for example, anything that shows Liz is a fixer over and over again. If that’s in there.

Because I can’t justify a first act that’s more than 35,000 words. It’s just too hard on readers. Argh.

69 thoughts on “The 12 Days of Liz: Day Three: Damn Pacing

  1. Isn’t it sort of different, though, when it’s a mystery? Because the pacing IS a little different; it has to set up the story and the clues and all that stuff. (Well, if it’s the kind of story with set up and then murder. The stories that start with murder are sort of different yet again.) Maybe part of it is that you’re still operating from the romantic story mindset?

    Just a thought.

    1. That may be part of it. One thing that the PopD mystery podcasts have taught us is that mysteries that are also something else (comic mysteries, for example) often sacrifice the mystery to the something else. In this case it’s women’s journey fiction and the mystery is definitely taking a back seat. Which is probably why it won’t be marketed as a mystery.

  2. Can any of this happen in the 2nd act? Seems like the dealing with her mother and aunt and Vince and Molly will carry through. So instead of cutting, could some of that just be moved? I’m assuming the murder is the first turning point? Though I’d think that was the inciting incident. Or is that the same thing? I never can keep those straight. Which is why I have no idea why I’m still typing…

    1. The murder is actually the midpoint. That’s usually where they happen in all my books because I like for the reader to see it all unfolding and then have the detection start. It saves me from having to do endless interview scenes because I can show what happened leading up to the murder.

    2. I’m going to try to move whatever I can to the second act, but it’s huge, too. I think really, I just have to cut.

      1. Oh, then I was thinking more like a traditional mystery. I watch too many crime shows on TV. We’re so used to the murder being immediate. Cut gently.

  3. My sincere sympathies. I have just gone through the wrenching pain of the cut. I’m sorry. It’s a frustrating and hurtful process.

    1. It can be freeing, though, too. Like decluttering, which I also have to do. (I want to keep ALL THE THINGS and ALL THE WORDS.)

      1. Oh, me too. KEEP ALL THE STUFF! I need someone to come in and just throw 3/4 of my life away. The writing? Well you see things much more clearly than I do, so I’m keeping my mouth shut and trying to learn a few things.

      2. Then you have to CLEAN ALL THE WORDS!!!
        Yeah, the sock puppet monkey face sundress looked super cute on the hangar and made me think of good times here, but the fit was horrendous. I had to decide to let it go last week, and it was the right decision because it didn’t do everything I needed it to do, and that wasn’t enough to justify keeping it. Now someone at the women’s shelter can wear it and giggle at the monkeys.

        Also, I knew I looked like a demented watermelon in it so didn’t even wear it for pajamas. The monkeys were not good enough to keep as art. Now I have room for things that make me happier than the monkey faces did. I have also hired a “maintenance” organizer (= waaaay cheaper than certified org) to help me whittle down my hoarded stash of stuff and things. She was over sunday and I’m still riding high from having the clutter off my table! I finally realized that I need professional decluttering help and it is life changing.

  4. I agree – there is leeway since you’re setting up someone to die. I think there’s a lot that needs to be set up, to justify it, and also misdirection. So, I do think you need some space leeway.

    If I were to cut, just looking at the internal conflict and only vaguely remember the mother scene from a long time ago, I’d wonder if some of the mother/aunt stuff could be pared WAY down or if the mother and aunt could be combined into one character. I don’t remember (if you even said it) what the conflict with Molly is, but that would be the second place I’d look at as regards to editing. How much of it is replaying the family stuff, and how much of it stands alone? What can be saved for later, or in the case of all three family members, another book? Are any of them going to change enough that if we pick up Liz II or Liz III those issues are going away? Because I just had the same damn fight I’ve had with my mother for the 1798th time about 2 weeks ago, and I’m still _really_ exhausted_ about it, and still a little depressed because although I thought we’d _finally_ made some progress by the end of her visit, it hit me a few days later that I’ve thought that for the past 7 years. So.

    Sorry to turn this comment into All About Julie. 🙂

    1. When it comes to the neverending ‘dealing with our mothers’, sometimes you just have to let a bit slosh out now and again to keep from bursting.

        1. Believe me, I understand. There’s a reason why mothers figure so heavily in my work. What I finally came to understand, very late, is that my mother did the very best she could. The fact that she damn near drove me insane is peripheral to the fact that she did the best she was capable of. The second thing I understood was that she wasn’t going to change and neither was I, so the best we could do would be a truce. That’s actually going pretty well now.
          Liz is on a similar trajectory but because she’s so much younger than I am, she still has made the leap to the first big truth about mothers which is that they have lives in which they aren’t mothers, that there are things acting on them, things that have happened to them, that we don’t know about and that are coloring their actions. When Liz finally starts to dig into what the hell is going on, she’s forced to look at her mother, at her aunt, at Faye and Kitty as more than just older women who are mother figures but as women who faced the same choices she’s facing, dealt with the same questions she’s dealing with. Until she can make that leap from “mother” to “woman,” she can’t see the truth that’s all around her.

          1. I cannot wait to read this book. Seriously.

            I was reading through the comments wondering if it was OK to ask why another main character who left home as a teen, but Tilda come onstage already having grasped that complexity, she was working on a whole different problem.

          2. It probably has something to do with my having left home at seventeen (to go to college). As Krissie said, “Has Liz come to terms with her home town yet? Because you haven’t.”

    2. Julie, I don’t know if this helps or hurts your cause but…
      One of the best tragic comedies I witnessed, ever, was my 92 yr old step-grandfather (grandma remarried 10 years ago to a younger man!) on Thanksgiving. We invited his daughter over for our 1 day early dinner. We had to wheedle some to arrange it. Everything was fine until he asked if she was joining the family at the grandson’s house the next day.
      She: no
      Pop: why not?
      She: I have plans
      Pop: well, where are you going?
      She: out
      Pop: with who?
      She: you don’t know them.

      She’s 71 !!!! They’ve been having this same conversation since she was 17. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry! He wanted her to feel invited, she though he was intruding – but wanted the invite. I just wanted them both to step back and realize they were both trying to say “I love you”. They just kept talking past each other. She wanted him to ask other things, but he doesn’t know how. And she can’t hear that he wants her to feel welcome. Crazytime.

  5. I’m not anywhere as good a writer as you are, but I do understand the pass-the-antacid pain of it all. I shared what my m.s. looks like on my blog—if you feel really lousy about the cutting ahead, you can entertain yourself by looking at that ( and thinking, “Hell, it could be worse. I could be that dumb bitch.”

    As I don’t want to pimp my blog on your site, I’m addressing you incognito.

    And now, because I’ve figured out that your website will put me in the pending comment box if I don’t use a recognizeable email address and/or use a SWEAR word…I’ll do what must be done:


    There. That should do it.

        1. FWIW, as a fellow-follower, I didn’t find that comment a bad kind of “pimping my blog” thing — I was more disturbed that you call yourself bad names. (-: However, if you want to go into pending, next time, try Viagra. Or two links. Y’all are going to get through this — you know it needs to be done, and you know how good it feels when you come out of the other side of editing hell.

    1. I agree with Micki. I can tell you are not dumb. I don’t know you well enough to comment on the bitch thing, but I’m guessing only when appropriate. So stop beating yourself up and tell yourself the truth about how brilliant and capable you are.

  6. Reading your list of points, there’s a whole lot of looking at the past with clear eyes and fixing it going on. Liz left behind a number of unfixed relationships. It’s hard to assess without reading the entire 43,000 pages, which I’d be more than happy to do. (Not that I’m throwing out a huge hint or that you need me since you have beta readers, but you can’t blame me for trying.)

    That said, when I first read the list, I was surprised that her relationship with Molly needs fixing. Any chance that can be the one relationship that’s reasonably okay?

  7. Yep, I think you write mainstream with a mystery element. So the rules are different.

    I remember when I thought I was writing mystery and the manuscripts ended up finding their niche in romantic suspense. (I still think they’re mainstream with mystery elements because they’re softer, not dark suspense…but I’m happy that someone is willing to contract them at all. It’s hard for a new writer to break into single title.)

    I like the way you’ve mapped out your process for eliminating the deadwood. And the way your brain works. I’ll have to study that. : )

  8. I don’t know if your brain is geared this way, but have you tried the 10% Rule?

    The rule is simple, don’t change any of the plot or characters, just take out 10% of the words. That would leave you with 38,700 words. At point you take out another 10% of the current word count only this time, you address things like repetitive plot points. That will bring the word count in part one to 34,830 words. Basically, every editing pass removes 10% of the current word count until you reach your goal or you run out of things to remove.

    In collage speak, it would be like knowing your board has too much stuff on it, so you pick through the arrangement and discard the things that look like clutter. Dumping duplicate words and extraneous verbage usually removes more than 10%, in my experience. Once that is gone, you should find it easier to fix the problem on the second pass-through. It’s just that 10% of the current word count is an easy yardstick to apply to the problem. It forces you to edit for clarity and simplicity and, in the end, speeds up the pace.

    If you run out of things to remove before you hit your desired word count, then it’s time to worry. You’re generally a pithy writer.

    1. Steven King said the 10% rule is one of the first rules he ever learned from his cranky newspaper editor–and once he did, he started selling.

    2. Hearing you talk about the 10% rule reminds me of the scene from LA Story where Steve Martin’s girlfriend is talking about wearing accessories. Before she leaves the house she turns around really quickly in front of the mirror and the first thing that catches her eye – gone! Don’t know if that would work with writing, but I’m smiling trying to picture it.

  9. I dunno . . . you say you need to cut 15,000 words and then by the way you are dancing around it, I think some scenes are going to have to be cut. Maybe reduced to a telling paragraph. If you think it needs to be done, do it. You’ll always have the original if you need to go back . . . .

    OTOH, I see this big, Southern (I know it’s Ohio, but it feels very Southern) thing going on with families, and mirrors being held up to reflect Liz’s inner conflict with external conflict . . . you might need the space. You can also go a bit slow — you just want to avoid dead stagnant pools of excess.

    1. I’m agreeing with Micki, AND because you are such fun to read what seems slow to you may not seem slow to readers. Crusie fans tend to think more is better… (And yes, I’m qualified to speak for all Crusie fans. Why do you ask?)

      1. I subscribe to the more-crusie-is-better theory too, except the first time I read it. Then I just want to cut to the chase. It took me 2 goes to get beyond the start of Fast Women. Now when I re-read it I want it longer. I guess knowing whats going to happen helps, but with a mystery I’ll probably be even more desperate to find out whats going on – the first time anyway.

  10. I am SO trying to understand structure. I have stalled out on so many novels and I now understand it’s because I approached them as a “pantster” (I think that’s a perfectly awful term, by the way) — not getting an overall idea of how structure worked even a little bit. The one time I plotted out a whole novel ahead of time, it just looked like a series of events to me. I knew something was wrong but not what. And I am determined not to do this again this summer with the idea I’m currently working on. Right now I’m popping back books on structure like candy. So, Larry Brooks and Story Engineering — check. Dixon and GMC — check. Writewell Academy — check. John Truby — just about finished. McKee is waiting for me and giving me heart palpitations every time I look in its directions, but we’re going to buddy up in a couple days nevertheless. I mention all this because I am really, really trying to get this and your entry here is right on that topic. So . . . if I’m getting Brooks right (probably not) at about 25 percent in the character commits. So I’m wondering — how does that fit in with the list you’ve got going? And what is the commitment (if there is one) that Liz needs to make? Is it to staying in town once the outer pressure (her car issues) is removed? Is it to resolving something with her mother and Molly and all? Is Peri the catalyst for that decision? I’m so looking forward to how others respond to your prompt.

    And can I just say thanks for sharing these bits with us because it’s fascinating and seeing someone who knows what she is doing think her way through is really cherries on top.

    1. There are a million ways to structure a book and they’re all good. I generally use the Four Act Structure because it solves my problems, but that doesn’t mean it’s good for you. (And it does probably mean I should get that Writewell lecture up.)
      But quick and dirty, the four act structure is based on the idea that the story should change radically every quarter or so (although I make sure the “quarters” grow shorter so the turning points are closer together). That means that although Liz’s goal is to get to Chicago and her regularly scheduled life, at the first turning point, she agrees to stay in Burney another two days even though her car is fixed. That changes the story from “I have to get Chicago” to “I have to help my mother and then get to Chicago” which makes it a new story. The overall goal remains the same–Liz wants to get out of town and escape her past–but the story itself changes in every quarter or act. So this first act is set-up, but the story also has to start moving on page one, which is where Vince stops her for speeding which leads to her car breaking down, which leads to her being stuck in Burney for an extra day which lead to complications that make her agree to stay longer. The turning point/midpoint of the book is Lavender’s death, which means Liz can’t leave because she’s a suspect and doesn’t want to leave because she’s furious that somebody killed Lavender. And so on.
      I really have to finish that structure lecture.

      1. Lavender dies?! I just met her yesterday and she seemed to be the best in the bunch. Poo.

          1. Much happier with Zane’s death.

            Btw, I’m having a moment of contented happiness having just finished Agnes again. Thanks!

          2. Nope, the title is Lavender’s Blue. I think it was Lavender’s Dead back when it was part of the Rosie Malone series. Or maybe in the early days of the proposal when I thought I was writing a straight mystery instead of whatever this hybrid is that I’m writing now.

  11. If the first turning point is Liz accepting herself as fixer and she’s going to have to fix Peri, couldn’t some of the stuff from #6 be moved to act 2?

    1. Not really. You have to set up everything in the first act (I think, your mileage may differ), you can’t start new stories in the second because you have too much moving of established stories to do, plus that’s throwing something new into the works. I think a reader should have all the cards that are going to be played in the story by the end of first act. if I had to choose, I’d cut a subplot rather than start it in the second act.

  12. Hard to tell without knowing more, but is the crazy aunt essential? Events involving Cash, Mom and Molly were the reason Liz left Burney so they’re key to her resolving her internal conflict. Vince sounds like the do-over for Cash. Peri sounds like the do-over for Molly. Mom’s going to have to be dealt with. From your post above, the aunt sounds like fun but it doesn’t sound as though the essence of the story would change without her.

    1. Yeah, the aunt’s essential. She’s the reason Liz comes home in the first place, and she’s a key part of Liz’s past. Peri isn’t a do-over for Molly, she’s a doppelganger for Liz as a child until Liz gets to know her and then she becomes somebody important to Liz. Vince isn’t the do-over for Cash, he’s the antithesis of Cash (not that Cash is a bad guy) and evidence that Liz has changed. I don’t think Liz does do-overs, she’s good at fixing things and moving on, but some things weren’t fixed right fifteen years ago, so she’s gone back (subconsciously) to finish the job.

  13. Incidentally, my brain keeps replacing Cash with Crash (from Unfortunate Miss Fortunes). Maybe it was the mention of the garage that triggered it.

    1. Cash is a senator’s aide. His family just owns a garage.
      I have had a lot of mechanics in my books, haven’t I? Nothing better than a good mechanic you can trust.

  14. Is it possible that the book is also meant to be even longer? That all the setup you think is necessary means the final manuscript is going to be longer to accommodate the four acts and full development of all the threads you have started. So perhaps the scene needs to be shorter but not by half?

    1. No, it really can’t go over 100K by too much. SMP has published my books at 116K before, they’re really good about accomodating the length the book needs to be, but I really hit a natural length at 100K and anything longer than that, I’m just indulging myself. There’s a sweet spot between “this book was too short” and “this book was too long” and for me it’s pretty much 100K.

        1. Fast Women was 116K. Faking It was over, but I forget how long it was. Maybe This Time went over. Agnes was 116K. The rest I’m not sure about.

  15. I think 50,000 words is too short. As a reader, I’d feel cheated if a book was that short. Seems fine for a YA piece maybe, but not a typical novel.

    That said, I say cut. I admit I’m bias, though. I’m big on cutting anything that slows down the pace. I work in a three-act structure (which I know could be argued is the same as a four-act one but the divisions work better for me). So at 49,000 words (even if you were writing a 100,000 word book) that would need to be around midpoint. And it doesn’t sound like it is yet. Ergo I’d cut and rework the important bits scattered into other scenes. There is one caveat, though. You are setting up a series and introducing a cast of characters with all sorts of relationship aspects and that takes more finesse and maybe a bit more time.

    I’m in the middle of cutting in my book right now too, so I feel for you.

    And if you’re looking for movie inspirations that mix mystery with romantic comedy, I’d say watch (or re-watch) How to Steal a Million or Foul Play. Not saying they may not have flaws, but they do a good job of keeping the mystery front & centre and moving forward and having the relationships spin out of that. Don’t think all mixed-genres movies do that, but these do. Plus they’re just fun:)

    1. You know, you can’t GET Foul Play; we tried for PopD.
      How To Steal A Million I know by heart, but if you go back to the PopD podcast on that, Lani and I argued bitterly about what kind of movie it was, caper with a romantic subplot or romance with a caper subplot. It wasn’t a mystery, but if you look at that plot closely, you’ll see that the weaknesses are because it switches genres mid-story.

      1. Completely right, they are capers. I’m using mystery term broadly here. You guys are more specific about types on PopD. Haven’t heard your podcast on Million yet, but now I’m intrigued. Problem is, for me it’s one of those films that’s like French Kiss for Lani–I know there are flaws but I still love it. The same with Foul Play, which I’m lucky to own. Think I’m partial to capers. I also love Manhattan Murder Mystery and consider it my fave Woody Allen movie.

        French Kiss, on the other hand, doesn’t work for me even though it’s got a good heart. The plot issues & character inconsistencies get in the way for me but mostly it’s because I can’t buy Kevin Kline as a Frenchman (admire lots of his other work but not this).

        Thinking about it, I find most movies with mystery elements that include romantic comedy are caper style. And lots of stories too–to me Agnes was more of a caper read & the banter certainly played to that.

        Not sure what you’re planning with the Liz books, though. Maybe you’re going for something more classic style.

        I did hear that there’s a new hbo show in the works that’s pulling from His Girl Friday and really wondering how that will turn out. Love that movie too and it also mixes genres. But it’s a tough act to follow even for Aaron Sorkin:)

        1. I love How To Steal A Million, it’s on my top ten list of romantic comedies.
          French Kiss doesn’t work for me because the heroine is so freaking annoying.
          I’m not sure what I’m going for with the Liz books, either. This may be the problem.

          1. I may be remembering this wrong, but I thought the Liz books were supposed to be a four-part series. Each with a particular theme (represented in colours?) and each with a mystery element that would provide the bones of the action. Think if you keep the theme in mind as a compass for each story, that might dictate what gets cut, what stays, and what’s better kept for a subsequent book.

            Not sure that will help, but I find the compass thing really helps me when I get lost and need to remember what’s really serving a particular story. And knowing the mystery is a vehicle to make the rest happen helps define its shape for me.

            One of the best pieces of writing advice about scenes I ever heard came from those guys who created Thirtysomething, My so-called Life, etc. Paraphrasing but it’s something like “come in late and get out early.” Love that. Really respects the reader/audience, too. And helps when it comes to knowing where to cut.

          2. Absolutely on the “come in late and get out early.” That’s crucial.
            The Liz books started out as a fake series of I forget how many (twelve? sixteen?) written by a character called Rosie Malone in a collaboration that’s on hold right now. Then Mollie said, “I wish you’d write the Liz books,” and I pulled out four of the titles for a mini-series of 50,000 words mysteries that taken together would make one 200,000 word romance novel.
            And then I started to write it. Argh.

          3. OH! I had an idea: when you are stuck, how about pulling back just a little bit, and asking Rosie Malone what she’d write in this situation? I mean, it’s still you, but it might be you with a different perspective that drags you out of the stuck place.

        2. Pulling from His Girl Friday? I’ll have to look for that, I love that movie.

          Foul Play is so much fun. I know that scene with the Bible salesman dwarf isn’t necessary, but it’s just so freaking funny.

  16. Okay, I’m wondering why all that stuff needs to be packed into the first act. #1 sounds to me like baseline setup and tension, so it can just be streamlined so that it’s always in the background in very small ways. #2 sounds like obstacles that you could begin to drop in during the first act, but concentrate on in the second. #3 sounds like broad themes of the book, which just need to start in Act 1, but don’t have to be gone into very far while everything else is getting set up. #4 sounds like it needs a light touch, because for all of us, the real import of those mother things is in the subconscious. I think you can get away with alluding to those things without putting too many words into them — every interaction with the mother and aunt in the first act could perfectly well be related to the other plot threads a bit more, rather than standing on their own as central “now” relationship stuff — at least not in the first act.

    #5, to me, seems to be a light-touch matter, too. I’m just meeting all these people, so I don’t want a fretful itchy feeling about former best friendships now strained to color everything I read. #6 sounds way to advanced to be Act 1 stuff — I could go with it if you phrased it “encounters and begins to be interested in Peri” but the growing relationship sounds kind of quicksandy to me for Act 1. And, finally, #7 is what I really want to get to in Act 1, with lots of connecting threads to all the rest of the stuff I’m going to delve into during Acts 2 and 3.

    There! I didn’t read your actual book yet, but I appear to have plenty of opinions about it already.

    1. It all has to be set-up in the first act. I think bringing in new things in the second act is just bad storytelling. You give your reader all the cards she needs to play the game up front.
      Having said that, I may be able to move some of the supporting stuff. But if I can’t move it, I have to cut it. Because right now, it’s strangling my story.

  17. Without reading anybody’s comments, I would recommend watching Grosse Pointe Blank with John Cusack and Doc Hollywood with Michael J. Fox. Seeing how these stories wrap up complicated backgrounds and pursue current story arcs might help you get back on your own track.

  18. Your list of the 4 books that went over in length happens to be my list of my favorite 4 of your books. I’m just sayin’…

  19. 150k would be just right. Take your time, tell your story, we’ll be patient.

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