I have posted on some other social media about how I am working now in my third edit of this book. While I love writing about these men and all the interesting history I have learned, not to mention creating my own version of their lives, I am well aware I can go on too long. Too much of a good thing is very real, and anyone can get tired when the book is too long. I have made some strides from the original mammoth that was this book, but the length is still longer than the 'average' of my genre.
Yet, how far does one compromise? Does taking out chapter after chapter and scene after scene end up ruining the heart and feeling of the story itself? How far must one go to appease the 'normal' structure of literature before they threaten their own story and wants? This is what I struggle with. How does one know what is a needed cut, despite how an author may love the scene, and what is too far?
I have removed 13 chapters from my book, most entirely necessary removals that I saw easily enough and, while fun, were not needed for the book. Some, however, were harder. Some I cared about and wanted that portion of the story told. But one must also remember that real, daily life is not the same as a story. Everyone has quite moments, funny anecdotes and stories that are fun to tell; but not every one of these are needed within an over all novel. Novels have a plot, a main conflict with a arch to follow. (At least usually) So fluff must be cut and scene trimmed down. I've removed 47 smaller scenes along with the chapters! So you can tell how much I like to write every little thing. But, in contrast to this, one also wants to be selfish. That chapter that only moves the plot forward a little but is still an amazing story? What if I still want that?
Well, I did that today. A long chapter I had removed, I decided to put back in. It gave the story a needed moment of levity with some difficult portions and more to come after that. If things fall low too often, your reader falls too and their interest wanes. I had cut it before due to length after holding on to it through most of edit 2 but kept coming back thinking about it. After all, my characters deserve levity just as much, do they not?
I could argue this point, how the chapter (which is a long one) helps the flow of the story, the feeling, but in the end, I think it mostly selfish. I want that chapter in, so I am keeping it. I have never thought this project one to gain me profits, quite the reverse. I think it very likely I will have to self publish. So, if I am making this book mostly for myself, and those I know as deeply invested as I, why not be selfish?