Today was supposed to be a writing day but it became an editing day. I watched my word count drop like the ball at Times Square. Sadly, there was no kissing or fanfare or pretending to know lyrics when this count reached zero.
Some of my cuts were to improve the flow of a scene. Some were because my past self sucks at writing. The outcome of my word slash and burn though was to bring nutrients back to the story.
I’ve not reached an official editing phase. There will be many. I do edits in bursts along the way though, as I did today. Usually it involves changing a word I use too often or adding a comma, but sometimes I just see something wrong and can’t move on until it explains itself and apologizes. If it can’t do that then it gets a backspace smackdown.
It hurts a bit knowing that I took a lot of time to make something only to watch it be destroyed, but at least I’m the one pushing the button. I can’t let it bother me if I know it’s for the best. I did improve each scene by identifying and removing the excess. I think about a screenwriter who has to tame this book, convincing the audience that it’s safe to approach the cage as long as they don’t have food in their pocket.
That writer is going to cut all of chapter 1, probably chapter 2, without remorse. All my slow character lead-in, gone. My full backstories reduced into brief narratives. Then I think, well maybe they’re right. Was all that necessary? Could I sum up those thousands of words into a one-liner?
I wonder if I’ll have a daily goal of minus 500 words a day when I reach the editing phase. Can I comfortably cut whole chapters? I feel a bit sick at the thought, but it’s likely what an editor might request. I’ll keep a bucket close by when I get there.
Have you started editing your novel? How much have you cut from your masterpiece?
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Oh, man, how much have my novel have I cut? I usually cut 10 – 30 %. That’s what I get for pantsing. I’m going to try to outline my next work so I don’t waste so much time in the editting phase.
While the process of burning away the extra words may seem daunting, I find that I like this phase because it feels… I don’t know, cleansing? I love watching my manuscript shrink, because I feel like my story becomes stronger because of it.
What’s your book about? 🙂
Good point Liv. It is cleansing, even if it hurts.
Here’s my current synopsis for my novel, Father’s Creed:
An infant nation struggles to secure its independence, the broken Natives cry for united opposition, and the embittered British wait for America to crawl back to the Crown. In 1812 the States are far from united, suffering conflict at its borders and from its people within. A father and daughter are forced apart, setting each on a journey across the fault line of a country hoping for peace, but preparing for war.
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That sounds interesting! I’d totally read a book like that. Let me know when you publish it! 🙂
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I will. Thanks Liv.