You know that thing they tell you to do that no one wants to do? I did it.

I cropped the first six chapters, approximately 8,000 words, out of my novel. Granted, about two thousand went back in. You do need SOME backstory. I have no idea if it still flows and if so, how well. I started the task in February, had a meltdown of brain and flashdrive cells and had to restart that and several other projects. (Have you run a backup recently?) I think it’s been for the better. When I launched into the restructuring two weeks ago, I had a new vision for how to do it and well, what do ya know? It worked. I think. Give me a few months of not staring at the blasted thing to get it out of my head – or a new beta reader – and I’ll be able to give you a better idea. At any rate, I hope to receive some sort of guidance from the writers conference and the agent that’s had my original opening. If she tells me I should never have cut a thing, fine.

My one concern has been how flummoxed everyone was by the number of characters and their names. (Be grateful I did not include the original novel’s massive cast.) Those readers who got confused pleaded with me to start the book slowly and give them time to acclimate. The problem with that is, no agent and/or editor wants to see a book start slow. Since publication has always been a goal, I elected to kill more darlings. There were already little bodies all over the floor anyway, what’s a few more?

Who Are You Reading?

Dragon SeedMy friend, Sangu has a great post today and I think it’s so important as a writer to do the sort of exercise she suggests, that I want to recommend you visit her.
She takes apart Daphne Du Maurier’s “Frenchman’s Creek” and discovers what moves her in the book and how she can use what she’s learned. I’ve done this many times in the past. I’m sure many of us have and all of us should. My “go to” book is sometimes “Tigana,” by Guy Gavriel Kay, sometimes “Pride and Prejudice” by the immortal Jane Austen. I’ve also done it with Pearl S. Buck’s “Dragon Seed” and “The Good Earth.”

What novels do you study after you’ve devoured them?

Chopstick Editing

Aren’t these chopsticks the coolest? Many thanks to Christina Farley. I won them from her Shopping in Korea contest. Ironically enough, I’d already decided to make stir fry the night I discovered these little guys waiting for me in the mailbox. So as I ate with them for the first of many meals, picking up each tiny piece of steak, broccoli or carrot, it occurred to me how they forced me to pay attention to details.

Where’s the best place to pick up that floret? Will the beef slip if I hold it crossways (yes), how many noodles can I handle?

It also occurred to me that the whole reason my current novel took me so @#$! long to write was I edited like this, too.

I’m a Detail-oriented person with a bolded D in the largest size font imaginable. I made a habit of nitpicking through each and every draft because I kept getting entranced by individual LEAVES on the trees, when I needed to see the forest. Don’t do this to yourself. Do NOT consider each word of your ms until you’ve gone through the thing structurally. Several times. There are a hundred tools out there to help you. I used Cheryl Klein’s The Art of Detection.

Once I did that, I realized 1. I cut off probably another decade’s work. 2. Made the book ten thousand times stronger. It went from 120k words to 104 and it’s down from that by a few thousand now. Don’t use chopsticks when you need a butcher’s cleaver or even a filleting knife.

Do you chop at words, but leave pointless scenes standing? What are you working on to improve your career?

An Answer

If you’ve seen my post called Praising God, you know I’ve had some self-doubt (and lack of faith issues) recently. I wanted to share the devotional that came up this morning and filled me with a renewed sense of hope and purpose:

“He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it.” Philippians 1:6.

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming. ;D

Hook Problems?

Go to Pen Perfect Associates and put your hook into Lea Schizas’ “Your Hook Posts.” She has agreed to do a critique. Also, make sure you check out her other blogs as she’s got SEVERAL awesome sites, all with great information. As soon as my toddler allows, I’m going back to read through more of Lea’s posts.