Progress: 115,078 words, Twelve Chapters (Six second draft, Six first draft)
I am halfway through the second draft.
I’ve altered scenes to start with a short, single-sentence paragraph. I always enjoy when other books do this. As readers, it gives us a chance to take a breath and prepare, even reflect a bit on what came before.
The overall revision is going well, though my word count isn’t dropping as much as I’d like. I’m hoping to get this thing down to 100k words, but the keyboard keeps letting me add stuff. Bad keyboard.
Still, there is deletion. There is streamlining. There is also enhancement, rounding out rough edges by filling in empty spaces rather than simply snapping off the corners. Some scenes required more atmosphere, or characters needed further dimension. Sometimes dialogue was desperate for rework. Sometimes a scene just felt lacking, like the end came without warning, like the reader would be leaning in for more, only to have the curtains close on them.
All of these corrections and tweaks so far have been minor, which comforts me, but then again… . Have I missed something? Is there a major plot hole I’m overlooking, or are characters behaving with inconsistencies? My beta readers, who by the end of this month may very well be reading this revision, might ask questions I never thought to ask. These collective queries in turn will come back to me as an even larger question: Am I willing to make fundamental rewrites?
If no one likes my main characters (as in they’re uninteresting, not despicable), would I be willing to reinvent them? If my readers disagree with key decisions or feel directions in the story are ill-conceived, perhaps even stupid, predictable, or boring, would I be able to scrap half the book and start anew? I’ve read about other writers doing it, and it scares me.
The fear isn’t in the task of more writing. I am, after all, planning to write more novels. The fear is, what if this is the best version of this story I can craft? What if I can’t envision another path for these people? Whether by stubborn pride, or mental exhaustion, or lack of creativity, I am afraid that a consensus of reader disenchantment may bring me to a wall I cannot overcome.
Until that wall is erected, I will remain intrepid. I also promise myself to be open-minded. I can’t argue over what people genuinely don’t like, and I can’t abandon their opinions. If there’s a problem, then yo, I’ll solve it. Vanilla Ice never gave up, was never afraid to reformat himself and, laugh if you want, is a great example of a smart, self-aware entertainer. His DIY show is in its 8th season.
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Matt, you are making wonderful progress with the editing phase. I have experienced a bit of your mindset when I have strayed from poetry to short stories. Being an editor is similar to any artist. You keep tweaking here and there as the story matures into a finished product.