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The Secrets of Story by Matt Bird

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Chapter Twelve

Now Cut Another 10 Percent

If you’re anything like me, your first drafts will be far too long, and then, as you begin to rewrite them, they’ll get even longer as you add the missing elements. It’s only once you’ve rewritten and revised that you can go back and start cutting it down.

Professional readers are overburdened, and the shortest manuscripts get read first. Everything you send out has to be lean, lean, lean. Here’s an infuriating thing that agents love to say: “I love it. Don’t change a thing. Just make it 10 percent shorter!” But how on earth are you supposed to cut pages without changing the story?

Step One: Replace Scenes That Gradually Introduce Your Hero with One Great Scene

The hope is, once you’ve expanded your stories ...

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