“Killing off your darlings”, as Kathy Stinson says…

I’m not sure if I’ve got that expression quite right, but it’s something along those lines – ie. editing out the unnecessary words that once seemed so perfect. At the suggestion of a children’s editor, I’ve been hard at work shortening “A Hare in the Elephant’s Trunk” for the past 10 days or so. It’s amazing how much can be shaved off without changing the story’s essence. I’ve reduced the manuscript by over 10,000 words (from 67,000 to 57,000), but I’m not finished yet…The 240 pages have been reduced to about 200, and it feels right when I read through it (even though there were a couple of good scenes I chopped). I’ve been told the general rule of writing is, “if it doesn’t advance the story, in some way, it doesn’t need to be there.” I suppose that would be especially true of a novel for middle grade readers, who like lots of action and rapid plot advancement. Truthfully, I’ve been surprised at the number of words I’ve been able to get rid of, and I hope I’m right in believing the pruning is improving the manuscript overall.

I applied, unsuccessfully, for a NS Dept of Culture grant for this project – just found out yesterday it was a no. I’m wondering if it’s because I mentioned I wouldn’t be teaching during the summer. Do they only give Creation Grants to full-time writers – ie. those who earn their living completely through their writing? When you read through the list of grant recipients, there seem to be many of the same people receiving grants each year. Interesting…

About janlcoates

I'm a Nova Scotia children's author. My first picture book, "Rainbows in the Dark", was published in 2005, by Second Story Press. My young adult novel, "A Hare in the Elephant's Trunk" was published in the fall of 2010, by Red Deer Press.
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2 Responses to “Killing off your darlings”, as Kathy Stinson says…

  1. Laura Best says:

    I too, applied for a grant and was unsuccessful. I do know one writer who received one last year. She told me she had tried in the past and was always turned down and then this last time she got it. Needless to say she was in shock. This year, when she applied the answer again was, no. I know another writer who has had four books published and one forthcoming this fall and you guessed it, he didn’t receive a grant either. I think the completion is really high and receiving one is just as tough as having your work published. Will I try again? Likely. And you should, too. You just never know…

  2. Pingback: Stuff bloggers have said about Me :: Kathy Stinson ~ Turning the Pages

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