As a break from my latest novel, I’m revisiting the draft of the one I wrote over a year ago. My plan in taking so long off from re-visiting it was to have the complete drafts of two novels to work with, so that I could do in-depth and comprehensive edits revisions.
At least that’s what I told myself.
Turns out I hate editing and revision with a passion and was putting it off for as long as possible.
However, a few days ago, I opened up my scrivener file and started going through the manuscript.
All in all, there is a lot of good stuff in there.
Not amazingly polished, although, if I do say so myself, there are large chunks that I thought were less cobbled together and clunky than I remembered.
However, there are also a LOT of parts of the manuscript that are just me doodling and playing and really just having fun with seeing where a scene might go.
Stephen King says that revision should shoot for first draft minus 10%.
Well, sorry, Steve but this book’s bloated more than…well, it’s pretty bloated.
Conservatively, I’m looking at a cut-rate that’s about a third of the current length, so we’re talking thirty THOUSAND words.
And the hardest thing to do when you are making those edit cuts is trusting yourself to know the vision of where you want the story to go.
It’s easy to second-guess yourself, especially when you are a beginning novelist and learning to trust yourself is still a skill in the beginning stages.
However, you need to say to yourself, ” Even though I love this scene, is it really going to make this story better by leaving it in?”
However, we still cling to the old idea that if you throw away a scene or chapter it’s gone forever.
There’s that stereotypical scene of the writer angrily pulling the paper out of the typewriter and crumpling it up and tossing it next to an over-flowing basket by their desk.
Thanks to technology, though, you can cut that scene and paste it into a folder on your computer.
It’s saved there for the future, where you might be able to use it for another novel or blog.
Heck, it might even make it back into the book in a later draft.
THe thing is, it’s great to write a lot and get the juices flowing and be willing to turn off the Internal Critic and go for it in the first draft; that’s what it’s there for.
The thing is that you have to be willing to let go for the sake of the story and remember that more is not always better.