"He that can have Patience, can have what he will." ~Benjamin Franklin
Yesterday I cut 6000 words from the manuscript I'm currently revising, One Night in Napa. In part, this was a response to my Tuesday night critique group, who told me I was taking way too long to get into the central conflict of the story and have the hero and heroine meet. And in part it was my own decision that there are places that can be tightened, especially in the middle where the action needs to be picking up pace faster than it is.
But it's always a hard thing, cutting chunks of your work. I've saved them, of course, in a separate file. And I wonder, even as I'm doing it, how much I am giving in to what conventional wisdom says should happen in the opening chapters of a book. I know full well that I don't write traditional romance novels, that mine are both bound by the 24-hour fetters I put on them and by the fact that I'm more concerned with exploring emotion and human growth than getting my characters into bed. I also know this will probably ensure that I never become a best-selling author in this genre.
That's OK. And I can even appreciate what my critique partners are telling me, that there's too much introductory narrative, too much character introspection, and not enough forward movement. So I changed that.
But I didn't change everything. I refuse to alter my storyline so significantly that the hero and heroine meet in the opening chapter. I know this is what some readers will expect, so I'm sorry. At the same time, the H/H didn't meet until halfway through my first novel, One Night in Boston, and while some readers had a problem with that, others have told me they appreciated the character growth that occurred before they did finally face each other.
So I struggle on. I'm still aiming for 70-75K words with this novel, but now that I'm back to around 60K, I have to take a serious look at what I want or need to add to the storyline. Don't get me wrong, I'm pretty satisfied with the edits I made. I just also have to remind myself (and those of you other authors out there) to remain true to the story I want to tell. I can't force myself to follow convention when it doesn't feel right for the story.
And if my readers have to wait a little longer for the hero and heroine to meet and feel the world shift under their feet, well, is that so wrong?