Cutting the new book

I’m working on a new book of short stories with the working title of The Last Present, which I will publish before the end of the year.

The target length of the book is 80,000 words. I set this target because I will also release it as an audiobook and I want it to be 8 hours or longer.

Last month I had over 65,000 words drafted, but now I have only 60,000. As I’ve been writing the stories, the themes and voice of the book are coming clear. This is good. I want a book with a coherent voice. However, now that I see what the book is, I can also see what it isn’t, and some of the stories don’t belong in the book, even some that I otherwise like. I cut them out, and now I’m back to 60,000 words. I have 20,000 words left to go, assuming everything I write fits, which it probably won’t.

I don’t like to cut because it means I’m not as near to done as I thought I was. But I also do like to cut because what’s left is truer to the emerging vision of the book. Over the years I’ve found that the more I write, the more I enjoy cutting. Addition sometimes makes the final result better. Subtraction almost always does.

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