What to Include & What to Leave Out of Your Novel

Novels are normally limited to between 75,000 and 125,000 words. That means, in addition to telling a good story, we must determine which details, which events, which characters, and which images and motifs to include and which to leave out.  Doing this properly leads to a novel that is focused, enjoyable, and seamlessly transfers your readers to your story world. Doing this poorly leads to a novel full of research, characters, or subplots which may delight you, but does not advance the story and, at worst, muddies it. As authors, we must also be curators.

“Curating an exhibition of artwork requires editing and ‘picking things out,’ yes–as an art museum curator, you’re searching your own museum’s collection for what would be appropriate for the idea of your show, and you also search other museums and private collections for supplementary pieces.” Milwaukee Art Museum

Authors bring ideas, knowledge, and passion to the table. We research, chase down, and verify what we need to complete the feel our readers need for time, place, character, plot, and setting (physical and emotional). Exactly what we need to tell our story.

As a novelist, I curate for my readers. As a novelist, you must, too!

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