I’ve been trying to cut a ~30K story down to less than 18K, today, and I’m beginning to think that it really isn’t meant to be any shorter than it is. There are parts of it that definitely have to come out, but there are parts of it that I can’t really get rid of. Not because I’m too attached to them–at least one of them involves vomiting, and I’m so totally not a fan of that, you don’t even know–but because it goes to show that the characters involved are kind and worthwhile beings.
I don’t have problems with people pointing out things like misspelled words, or missing punctuation, or even cutting a few lines here and there. (In fact, in the first story I ever sold, I got the edited version, skimmed it, said ‘looks great!’ and went on my merry way. It wasn’t until almost a month later that I re-read the edited version in MS Word and actually saw that an entire conversation had been cut, at the beginning. Clearly, it added nothing to the story and I knew it, on some level.)
I’m not too good at letting go of things if I have to make the decision myself, though. Maybe the scenes that I’m thinking make a solid foundation for the later development of the relationship between my characters don’t actually do that and I just can’t see it. Fortunately, I’ve sent it off to someone else who can see that kind of thing, and I should have an answer in the near future.