Splitting a Butterfly in Two

My first completed novel, If a Butterfly, was EXTREMELY long. The first draft was well over 300,000 words, about 1,300 double-spaced pages; but — in its defense — it’s a complex story, spread across an entire continent and into outer space, and is peopled by a sizable group of characters. That hefty word count, I think, was a huge factor in keeping me from securing an agent to represent me, especially considering that I’m a first-time novelist.

I think it’s a good novel, especially now that I have polished, trimmed, and reworked it several times. It’s now a svelte 236,000 words, about 900 pages, but the same issue still exists — too long for consideration — so I decided to do something about it.

Tonight I began the scary (for me) process of dividing the book into two distinct novels, each roughly half the size of the former whole, and preparing the text for e-book distribution. I have other shorter novels in the works also (one complete and two others in process), but they’re far from ready. I thought I might as well get Butterfly out in the marketplace and see what happens to her.

I’ll do a final polish and trim after I’ve separated it into Book One and Book Two, Before the Storm and After the Storm. Fortunately, there is a natural dividing place around page 490, so I should end up with one book around 120,000 words and another about 115,000 (or a bit smaller after I trim each of them).

This will be my first time to e-publish, and I’ve resisted it for a long time, but I thought it might be better to have the book out there in the world instead of just sitting on my hard drive (and backed up on four others and multiple CD’s and DVD’s, of course).

I’ll post a brief synopsis next time (and probably also post the pitch that freaked a few agents out), plus progress reports on the editing and splitting process.


About michaelsirois

Just a retired educator taking a stab at the Great American Novel.
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