When I submitted my original manuscript, I had no idea what I was doing. The publisher came back and said they liked it and would work with me to publish it. I was assigned an editor. Both the publisher and the editor were supportive, positive, very professional, easy to work with, and highly skilled. They both brought me down to Earth: Yeah, it’s way too long. (At this point, anyone reading this who knows me will be laughing. Yeahp!)
I needed to chop, oh, 15% off. That worked out to around 18,000 words. I briefly considered losing all the verbs, but even that wouldn’t have solved my dilemma. Hard work lay ahead. As I had littered the story with ‘essays’ and asides, my editor pointed out that a good many of them actually detracted from the focus on my subject. He was right.
Early candidates for chopping block consideration were my two dog stories. Considering they described family life for Anderson when he was a lad, 45 years before the Bulge and Remagen, the editor had a point when he suggested I had strayed a bit from my central topic. After all, the book was NOT titled, Combat Engineer – The Life and Leadership and Childhood Pets of Colonel H Wallis Anderson, etc. I relented, and chopped one dog out, while dumping the other into the Endnotes. I felt bad about losing Roam, so now is my chance to make amends. The following was from an early draft:
Anderson’s pastoral early life included one element that seems timeless and bridges generations: pet dogs. While in Folcroft, the Anderson household first enjoyed the presence of what Wallis called a “shaggy Newfoundland gentleman” named Roam. Roam was described as a faithful and constant companion, tragically so, in fact. When the family took a short trolley trip away, Roam was left behind, and tried to track the family by scent along the rails, resulting in a fatal encounter with a train.