Late last month, struggling to meet a May 1st deadline, I wrote a blog post entitled "Too Much Plot". The problem, in a nutshell, was that I was writing to a word count limit and couldn't figure out how to fit all the scenes I'd outlined into the story.
I received many sympathetic and helpful comments from my fellow authors. I thought you might want to know how the whole situation turned out.
First of all, I made the deadline. I submitted Wild About That Thing on the 28th of April. With 63 words to spare!
It's possible that the story might have been improved if I could have made it a few thousand words longer. However, as this was intended as a contribution to an anthology, that just wasn't an option.
So how did I manage to shoe-horn my plot into my word limit? Well, first of all, I had to cut out one of the two three-way sex scenes I had planned. As you may imagine, I regretted this, especially since this is a ménage anthology. However, it couldn't be helped. I did manage to draw out the scene I retained, importing some of the emotional (and sexual) content from the discarded scene. I know it's a bit implausible that three people should develop a strong bond in a single sexual encounter. On the other hand, this is romance - fantasy - so maybe my readers won't mind.
Another way that I condensed my plot is by moving events from one setting to another. For example, I had originally worked out a scene that revealed a critical secret about one of the three main characters. I had envisioned this revelation as occurring while the three were sitting together at breakfast, the morning after an erotic encounter. Moving your characters from one place to another does consume time and word count, though. As an alternative, I incorporated the discovery scene earlier in the sequence of events, in the same setting as another scene.
The third strategy I used was trimming the back story. One of the characters was supposed to explain the tragic events in his past, that led him to behave in a certain way. I kept the explanation, but cut it to the bare bones - just one or two sentences, enough to suggest his grief without going into detail.
Quite a few of the romance novellas I've read have a rushed feeling near the end. I really hope that my attempts to deal with the "Too Much Plot" problem haven't had this result. I can only cross my fingers.
I do have one piece of encouraging evidence that this isn't so. The story has been accepted!