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What Do You Really Want? Author and critque partner, Don McCandless, posted this question and some great advice on Internet Writing Workshop (IWW) after some grumbling posts about trimming words.

I know what I want. I want to write a lot of books. I want to keep my agent busy selling my novels. I want to continue mastering the craft of writing.

To make this happen, I depend on IWW and excellent critque buddies like Don McCandless. IWW is like writer’s boot camp. We work out, tearing apart each other’s chapters, toning our grammar, paring down our prose, trimming our beloved darlings, and wiping out those sagging clichés.

Below is Don’s post from IWW. It’s great advice, not only for writers, but for anyone. Thanks Don!

What is it that you really want? Why do you write?

Once upon a time, when I was an aspiring athlete, I worked out hours and hours every day. I sacrificed many things most people take for granted. This isn’t something you can hide from anyone. Everyone who  knows you, is related to you, works with you, knows you’re paying a price they’d never consider. And yet, many of these same people would ask, we have this league, this team, this event, this company picnic. Come and play with us.

To a trained athlete, there is no situation more dangerous than being in close quarters with a recreational athlete. They don’t know what they’re doing, and you’ve reduced what they see as exceptional, to trained reflex.

So what does this have to do with writing and word counts, you ask. The answer is, simple logic.

Literary agents make their living by representing writers the general public support by purchasing their product. If this is your goal, to be one of these writers, then one must learn the rules of the game, perform the required exercises, build yourself up to  completion level, and compete. One must be lean and mean. No fat. None. Zero. Nada.

Traditional publishing is a game. If you don’t play by the rules, you automatically lose. If the game isn’t for you, there’s always the co-ed recreational league that meets at the Salvation Army Hall on Tuesday nights. Sign up, and have fun. It’s easy. Anybody can play. But no one will ever read about you in the paper. So what is it that you really want? What price are you willing to pay?

Do you really need every one of those 100,000 words? Or could you work off ten or fifteen thousand. No pain, no gain.


Thanks Don!

My first novel, Crooked Lines, landed on my agent’s desk at a hefty 126,000 words. She insisted I trim it to under 100,000 words. It wasn’t easy, but I did. Hoping for a sale soon.

I’m spending this week finishing my second novel, “I’ll Be Seeing You,” and hope to have it to my agent by November 1 to begin NANOWRIMO, National Novel Writing Month. NANOWRIMO is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel-writing. Participants begin writing on November 1. The goal is to write a 50,000 word, (approximately 175 page) novel by 11:59:59, November 30.

I probably won’t be blogging much during November. No Pain. No Gain.

Sitting on my butt writing, I won’t gain muscles (like my athlete boys, above) but I do hope to gain a new novel by November 30!  Write on!