What do the people below have in common?
In other words: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, John McCain, J.K. Rowling, Hercules, Bertrand Russell and the Dalai Lama.
Answer: They are people whose “lives” or stories I have cut from the second draft of my book manuscript.
Now, I am entirely aware that seeing these people on the same list is bizarre to begin with. What could they possibly have done in the same book–my book-in the first place? Why would I cut them out now? And who might be left?
I’m not at liberty to answer these questions right now, but I will say this:
Good writing and editing is in part about “crucifying your darlings,” as Ed Carr, one of my editors at The Economist, once said to me. And I have decided–boldly and without regret–that my book will be better with fewer lives.
Less is more, in other words. The total word count has stayed the same, but I have gone much deeper into the characters I have chosen, and have done a much better job weaving them together into precisely the narrative about success and failure that I am trying to produce.