Thursday, April 5, 2007

Axe session

My wife read through my new content today, and, as I had feared, there were parts of my last chapter that were too bloated. She marked spots and we went through them all, cutting and clarifying. In all, we cut almost 1,200 words. That's a lot more than I had intended! Oh well, these are good changes, and she likes the pacing the way it is now. I have some pretty cool scenes in there that I hadn't thought much about, so it was nice when she recognized those.

The funny thing is, most of the sections that were cut were ones that I had agonized over. Wondering how to best describe the details of some scenery, or how to describe the characters' actions at some certain point. I did a pretty good job of producing clear, well-written prose that did just that. But it was still extraneous and had to be cut. What's humorous about this is that if I had just not written those parts to begin with, I would have been able to make much better progress on my writing than I have so far. It's often little details like those sorts of wordings and descriptions that bog me down the longest.

Oh well, I'm still getting the hang of writing-without-overwriting. It's good to have this sort of feedback as I go, so that I can correct as I'm working. The problem here was that I was just expounding too much on some bridge scenes, when really a sentence or two would suffice. I have an unfortunate natural tendency to do that, and so I'm trying to train myself not to. Fortunately, things are about to kick up a notch in my story (my pool of characters increases, which is very helpful), so hopefully there won't even be the temptation for writing those stupid bridge scenes that I'll just have to cut later.

At any rate, now that these cuts have been made I feel that my last couple of chapters are as strong as my first ones for this book were. That's a good feeling in the end, even though I don't like discovering that I need to do a bunch of cuts. The new total:

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
9,903 / 95,000 (10.4%)


Rachel said...

I think sometimes it's the process you have to go through, all that back stuff, even though it gets tossed later. You may come back to it and it gives you greater knowledge internally of your own story and character I think.

Karen Mahoney said...

Totally agree with Rachel, you're just making the book stronger and this is a necessary part of the process. I can *so* relate at the moment... Good luck!

Rachel said...

Chris, just thought I would return to this since I am going through this again now. Wrote a story that ended up being under 5000 words. I felt it was complete. Friends and Critique Partners made remarks about needing more, and seemed to need more explanation about things so eventually I put more in. Expanding it, tweaking it. Sending out again. Getting it rejected, tweaking it again, and getting it rejected again. I thought my character wasn't connecting, so I worked on her. Eventually the story was almost 9000 words. Finally, I sent it some place where I got a personal comment back. They might reconsider it if I cut it in half. So, back down to the less than 5000 words. On the one hand, that could be discouraging, on the other, I needed that journey to find out the true story. People had had 4-5000 words before, but they hadn't been the RIGHT 4-5000 words. Hopefully, with the extra knowledge gained, I can find the right remaining words to compellingly tell my story.

It's a lot of work. We'll see how it turns out. Hope that helps you in some way.

Christopher M. Park said...

Rachel, thanks very much for your thoughts and encouragement on this. It is indeed a great help to know that others are facing similar challenges. There's definitely a million wrong ways to tell a story, and a thousand good ones. Finding one of the thousand can definitely be a twisting journey. Thanks again!


Colleen said...

Rachel's comment about finding the right words to tell the story is bang on. While word count is a requirement for marketing purposes, the right word count telling the wrong story won't fly either. It sounds like you're doing really good work. Congratulations.