Over the last few days, I’ve re-read all 82,000 existing words of The Final Line, which is Corey Yarwood’s story. I’d set it aside long ago enough, I needed to get back in touch with my character voices and remember what I’ve done to these guys and what I still have left to do.
I kept looking for scenes to cut. 82K is a lot of words. I still have some distance to go, too. Honestly, I couldn’t find anything to cut. I guess when you’re telling a story about a Marine with PTSD who is caught up in a scandal involving the cover up of war crimes, it’s going to be a long story. I can’t cut an anxiety attack or a flashback, because they all reveal a portion of the plot. I can’t cut any of the ‘treatment’ scenes, because they reveal character arc or move the plot or relationship forward. Then there are scenes that are entirely plot elements.
Even the love scenes are significant. They either reveal something about a character or they function to move the relationship itself forward.
At this point, cutting ANYTHING will do something I feel is detrimental to the story:
1) Reduce the severity of Corey’s PTSD
2) Make Corey’s recovery too quick and too easy
3) Create plot holes
4) Turn Sean from a 3 dimensional character to a 2 dimensional
5) Turn the romance from a deep relationship the characters fight for into an ‘insta-love’ short cut
While there are things I might be able to get away with and still have a well reviewed and popular story, I feel like that would be an irresponsible way to deal with the themes in this story. It feels like a disrespectful way to handle them.
So, I’ve resigned myself to the fact that this is going to be a long story, and that the beta and I are just going to have to tighten it up by shaving some words here and there, rather than chucking entire segments and scenes.