Of Pitches and Piglets

That's right. I was paid to kill these. It was the third-worst part of that job. Don't ask me about the first two.

We finished the second edit of the book.

Have you ever had to kill piglets? I worked on a pig farm for a distinguished five or six months. There’s a number of things that you get to do in such a position that aren’t the most fun. For instance, any piglets that clearly wouldn’t live, I got to kill. Yup. Big warrior me, breaking the necks of little defenseless piglets. It made the herd healthier and killed a piglet that would likely die by being sat on by its mom. Still, it wasn’t fun.

That’s what this edit was like. I cut things that I miss… but it’ll make the novel stronger. Favorite turns of phrase vanished with a delete button. Whole characters swallowed up for the greater good. Sigh. Goodbye, fictional characters.

But that’s not the worst part.

No, what I’m doing now is far, far worse.

As part of the submission process, I need to write full character descriptions and a full plot summary in the space of two pages.

This is standard pitch procedure. An editor doesn’t have time to read every manuscript that comes her way; a quick look at the pitch and a page or two of the novel itself is usually enough to tell the editor everything she needs to know. I understand this is normal.

But I gotta tell you, trying to fit an epic fantasy into a page and a half (after the character descriptions are done)? Not an easy task! And it’s not like I’m teasing. This is a full plot summary, which includes the ending and any significant twists and turns.

I’m left asking myself: “Is this important enough to make it in? How do I compress that twenty-page chunk into two paragraphs? Should I even mention this character?” I did it bullet-point style so I could see the whole thing better. The initial draft is sitting at just shy of five pages.

And the hard part is… as I continue to compress and simplify, it’s looking more and more like a standard fantasy novel. As I prune out the unnecessaries, I’m also pruning the originalities. I’m depressed! Was I wrong? Is this really just a standard fantasy with nothing unique going on other than window dressing?


So, time to hack and slash.


2 thoughts on “Of Pitches and Piglets

    1. Carefully. The first draft was incredibly clinical in describing the book. Now that we’ve narrowed the events and relationships that are necessary, though, we’re attempting to make it interesting to read!

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