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Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Hard Place

As Winter creeps closer, I'm losing my mornings. I no longer rise shortly after 4 AM. Soon, it will be hard to get to work on time with clothes on and belly full. Darkness equals bed to this turtle.

The good news is 2nd-draft revisions for Elementals draw to a close. I hope to be done this weekend. Very good news for some of my patient test readers who've waited a month longer than promised.

The bad news is my poor math skills appear accurate in this instance. Unless something drastic happens, I will finish with 5K words over the limit and no idea how to remedy the situation.
I'm considering cutting the prologue and maybe the flashback scene with Cahnar and Corehnar, but those can't be more than 1K combined.

One option PYP offers (which I haven't seriously considered) is dividing the story into two books of 60-80K each.

Pre-PY, I'd planned on adding some words for clarity and wrap up around 110K. I did leave some dangling plot threads in the event a sequel ever sprouted in the compost I call a subconscious, so I have wiggle room to increase to 120K for two books.

The problem is where to divide for book 1 and book 2? The story is two pieces zipped together to form a single unit. I don't think I can unzip it without losing something. That something would be tension, followed closely by cohesion.

TT: Here's where some writing acquaintances would tell me to zip it, and "unzip the story. It will be better." I disagree with that thinking. Not vehemently, but enough to balk. And enough to expound.
We writers are told over and over re-writing only makes it better. I disagree.

Writing is not a science. It's an art. Artists understand it's possible to ruin the piece you're creating by fiddling with it too much. Writers are prone to fiddling. We can always find a sentence to modify. How could we not?

I've got 105K words to screw up while conveying meaning. Add in the variety of readers and the filters they use to process and possibly misunderstand my words and you're looking at a turtle ready to crawl into bed and never write again.

Maybe I am a little insane.

I'm not saying the first draft (or second or necessarily the third) is the best we'll ever write. But sometimes, our brains spit out the story in a certain way, and that's the way we want to tell it. Dare I say, "that's the effective way to tell it," or is that just too arrogant for a Thursday?

TT: The Lioness butts up against this all the time. It's how we connected. I heard her pain and responded out of the norm. Kind of like her story.

Sometimes the first time is the best time. I don't redo my hair in the mornings. Anything after that first attempt just gets worse. Learned that the hard way. It's a common enough phenomenon in my life to make me hesitate about fundamentally changing the way this story is presented.

Inhale. Exhale.

This may make me sound difficult. I don't mean to be. I do try very hard to meet or exceed expectations. But I don't jump quite as fast as I did in my younger years when I don't agree with the reasoning. Call it an occupational hazard of aging.

You could also call it laziness. I don't want to rewrite 100K words that took me months to write in the first place when I'm not convinced the end result will be better.

Leaving me with "slash and burn."

Inhale. Exhale.

Turtle that I am, I will wait until revisions are finished and test manuscripts are dispersed. Perhaps reader feedback will give me some direction.


  1. Not having read the whole book, I can't be certain, but I suspect your instincts are correct that breaking the story in half will be counterproductive. You possibly could do without the prologue, and flashbacks are almost always disposable. (You can maybe keep the information conveyed by the flashback by condensing it into a rumination instead, e.g., "this was just like the time he...").

    But remember that in a 105k novel, 5k is less than 5 percent. So you only need to cut an average of 10 words per page. (Is this too mathematical?) I put it this way because I suspect you have already eliminated any whole scenes that are disposable. So now we're down to streamlining what's left. It can be done. But it is a job for a scalpel, not a cleaver.

  2. Hello, Lioness! I fear I've scalped as much as I can see. I may need a more professional hand at the keyboard for the remainder. hehe!
    I did use more flashbacks in this story than I've used elsewhere, but I was playing with the technique. I may rewrite a few chapters depending on feedback from readers.


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