Better Slim Than None

Would I Want Any of My Fiction Titles Converted to a RD Condensed Book?

By Jeff Salter

My short answer to this week’s topic?

You betcha.

I’d rather people read a slimmed down version of my stories than not read my stories at all. But that doesn’t mean I think the abridged version will be BETTER. In fact, I’m sure it would pain me to learn what those condensers decided to cut out!

But I’ve been through edits where the editor had me cut something like 22,000 words from a manuscript. After all that blood-letting – and after I’d had time to grieve – I had to admit the story flowed quite well without those 22k words.

Were there some good scenes among the many that were excised? Certainly, in my opinion. But the editor believed they slowed the flow of the story… or otherwise shifted the focus of the story. Maybe so, maybe not. But when I re-read the published version years later, I can’t even remember what was omitted… and therefore I don’t miss it.

My Rationale

Here’s why I don’t think I’d mind having some of my novels condensed:

  • When I was a school kid, lots of us (including me, occasionally) – when in a time crunch or due to a severe lack of interest in the material – chose to read the Monarch Notes or Cliff Notes… rather than suffer through the entire text (of whichever classic literature was being dumped upon us). If it were MY book being studied, I’d far prefer that the student read a condensed version than to rely upon the summaries in Monarch / Cliff.
  • When I was a high school freshman, we were required to read Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield. Folks, that book was every bit of 600 pages! At age 14, I didn’t care about London, orphans, or Copperfield. And, at that point I thought Dickens has probably written such a long book because he knew one day the high school freshmen would have to wade through it. Fortunately, one of the publishers – Signet, as I recall – had the foresight to ABRIDGE that title… so I had a choice! And a decision. My big brother had been in that same class with that same teacher three years earlier. He told me I really should read the LONGER version, because the teacher took some of her exam questions from text that did not appear in the abridged version [one of these was a minor character who wasn’t even mentioned in the shortened version]. Well, long story short, I bought the abridged version, which was roughly half the length of the other one. And even that was a struggle to wade through. Nevertheless, I got through the book, passed that exam, passed the course, and went on to become an English major in college. LOL.
  • Many years ago, when I was going through a spiritual struggle, I realized I needed (and wanted) to read the Christian Bible. But it seemed a formidable task: all those 66 books, all those 1000 pages of thin paper and teeny print! I dithered and I procrastinated. Finally, I had an idea! I found the children’s illustrated Bible that someone had given our son. Yeah, I knew it was “cheating” but I wanted to read the Bible and had to start somewhere. So I read it, cover to cover… and I was hooked. Though I’d been in Sunday School and church for much of my life, I discovered things in that illustrated Bible that I didn’t recall ever knowing before. And that let me to read a more complete, but still abridged, Bible aimed at kids, but without the illustrations. In that version I learned even more… and was hungry for still more. Finally, I took the plunge and started reading the full text, NIV Bible. I started reading at least a complete chapter every morning in my office before work. Along the way, I was in a weekly Bible study for 10 years with 3 friends (later one dropped out). When it’s all said and done, I’ve gone through the complete Bible at least three times and, of course, been over some of the Books many additional times. Would I have done that, had I not first wet my feet with that juvenile illustrated version? I wonder.

Conclusion

Suffice it to say, I’ve got nothing against people reading condensed versions of my stories. I’d PREFER them to read the full-length story, as I wrote it, revised it, edited it, etc. But I’d rather they read my work in SOME form… than not read my work at all. My thought is: if they like what they read in condensed form, perhaps they’ll tackle the next title in its full length.

If I had the ability and money, I’d even commission a GRAPHIC NOVEL version of some of my stories… just to hook those readers who tend to avoid lengthy texts that have no visuals.

Question: What about YOU? Do you enjoy condensed / abridged books? Why or why not? Would you want one of YOUR titles to be condensed?

[JLS # 528]

About Jeff Salter

Currently writing romantic comedy, screwball comedy, and romantic suspense. Fourteen completed novels and four completed novellas. Working with three royalty publishers: Clean Reads, Dingbat Publishing, & TouchPoint Press/Romance. "Cowboy Out of Time" -- Apr. 2019 /// "Double Down Trouble" -- June 2018 /// "Not Easy Being Android" -- Feb. 2018 /// "Size Matters" -- Oct. 2016 /// "The Duchess of Earl" -- Jul. 2016 /// "Stuck on Cloud Eight" -- Nov. 2015 /// "Pleased to Meet Me" (novella) -- Oct. 2015 /// "One Simple Favor" (novella) -- May 2015 /// "The Ghostess & MISTER Muir" -- Oct. 2014 /// "Scratching the Seven-Month Itch" -- Sept. 2014 /// "Hid Wounded Reb" -- Aug. 2014 /// "Don't Bet On It" (novella) -- April 2014 /// "Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold -- Dec. 2013 /// "Echo Taps" (novella) -- June 2013 /// "Called To Arms Again" -- (a tribute to the greatest generation) -- May 2013 /// "Rescued By That New Guy in Town" -- Oct. 2012 /// "The Overnighter's Secrets" -- May 2012 /// Co-authored two non-fiction books about librarianship (with a royalty publisher), a chapter in another book, and an article in a specialty encyclopedia. Plus several library-related articles and reviews. Also published some 120 poems, about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos. Worked about 30 years in librarianship. Formerly newspaper editor and photo-journalist. Decorated veteran of U.S. Air Force (including a remote ‘tour’ of duty in the Arctic … at Thule AB in N.W. Greenland). Married; father of two; grandfather of six.
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9 Responses to Better Slim Than None

  1. I have never been fond at all of condensed books. In fact, I made up my mind long ago to stop reading them, and to give away any Reader’s Digest condensed that ended up in my possession for one reason or another.
    Now, an offer, though from RD? I’ll let you know tomorrow.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. jbrayweber says:

    If we’re talking Cliff Notes type of abridging, then I’m all for it! But I’m not sure that is viable for all stories, but for longer books with dense subject matter, yes. For my own books…graphic novels all. The. Way. I can totally picture (pun intended) all my stories fitting nicely with that style of book. In fact, it would be a dream come true.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      Of course, we’ve all seen some cruddy graphic novels. But — going all the way back to the Classics Illustrated comics that I read as a kid — I’ve enjoyed a visual element in a condensed version of a story or historical account. Sure, it leaves out a lot, but it also gives me a lot that I might not otherwise have been exposed to.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. If it was Reader’s Digest offering to feature my stories in a condensed version, I’d go for it in a heartbeat. They have a reputation and an immense following. Think of the future readers my complete novels could gain by being featured in a Reader’s Digest offering. Oh, yes. Bring it on.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I never thought about graphic novels until jbrayweber brought it up! I could see my samurai historical working well in that format.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Elaine Cantrell says:

    Like I said, I’d sign up in a heartbeat.

    Liked by 1 person

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