I am coming up on the end of the novel. I am staring page 200 (single-spaced page 200) in the face, and my narrative word count is up to 108,000 (AKA, pretty honkin’ long). That means, with the amount of scenes and events I have left to write, that the final draft will be about 130K (AKA, effing loooooong).
I haven’t gone back through the first, oh, two-thirds of the story since I wrote it and moved further on in the outline, except in bits and pieces to get the details of a scene I’m referencing later correct. So I don’t know how much fat could be trimmed from earlier in the narrative…but my guess is, not enough to get this back into my goal range of 100-100K.
A couple days ago the notion occurred to me that I might have built in an unnecessary sub-plot, and an unnecesary villain. When I conceived the story, one of the running catalysts for bringing the hero back into the heroine’s sphere was the actions of a man who wants revenge on her brother. The only problem is that I’m not sure I have a satisfying explanation for why his harrassment is spread out over the course of three or four months, or why it seems half-hearted enough that no serious damage is ever incurred, or why pretty much all of the characters seem to forget about him except when dealing with the direct consequences of his actions.
Really it was that last that made me wonder if his villainy was actually necessary, or if I had found my fat. See, the problem is that I have two antagonists right now: the harrasser, and society (with a deep hat tip to Tessa Dare for pointing out how many romance novels don’t have a villain other than society). I am not saying two villains are incompatible. I may well decide that both ARE necessary for the story. But I’m not sure. I think I’m resisting the idea of cutting the invidual villain subplot because there are certain events connected with it that I really love, but my instincts are saying he’s not necessary. Especially getting toward the end of the narrative, identical events can happen for different–and in all honesty, perhaps more dramatic and compelling (in terms of being a character motivator)–reasons.
Cutting him out now would require recalibrating very few of my closing events, but it would entail a fair amount of re-writing and perhaps re-envisioning of earlier scenes.
Dilemma, conundrum, quagmire, et cetera.
Anyone else struggled with this? What did you decide, and were you happy with the decision?