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Part Two: Getting the Inside Scoop from Robert Rotenberg, Author of "Old City Hall"

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Okay, here's a story for those of you who don't believe in editing. Or as I like to say, 'location, location, location' is to real estate what 'cut, cut, cut' is to writing.

The original manuscript for Old City Hall was 143,253 words, but who's counting? I cut forty thousand words out of the book. Sixteen chapters. Probably about two years' worth of work. And this was after I'd sold the novel in nine languages. It's called having a tough, good editor, and knowing how to listen. And it made it a much better book.

I remember there was a point when I got the galleys and I sat down and read the whole book from top to bottom, as if I'd never seen it before. And I thought, "Yes, this is the book I wanted."

So, am I satisfied? Very. There's one chapter I cut that I do regret taking out. In a perfect world, I'd go back and find a way to weave that in. Pretty small complaint.

Hey, I'm not painting any chapel ceilings, but it's a bit like what Michelangelo said about his sculpture of David: The figure was there, I just had to cut away the stone. Thanks to the darn internet, here's his actual quote: "I saw an angel in the marble and carved until I set him free," and "Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it's the task of the sculptor to discover it."

That's the goal, to find the sweet spot where your story lives. That point where it all fits.

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