Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Revisions Ahoy!

Psst! Psst! Hey you. Yeah, you. Have you got a pair of heavy duty shears I can borrow? Because I need to cut a whopping chunk of words out of this manuscript and my normal cuticle scissors just aren’t up to the task.

Remember how I said I knew my manuscript was too long? Well, I was right about that. Also, I am chagrinned to see that it has a couple of flat spots and bald patches. Nothing life threatening, but those parts definitely need some more grooming.

My biggest task is finding a way to simplify the politics. This, after I’ve already simplified and culled them down seventeen time already. But that wasn’t quite enough. They talked a little bit about this in MADE TO STICK, about how what you know gets in the way sometimes, and as a writer, I find that to be so true. Especially when juggling history and politics and what was real and what was cool and what was interesting. But all that history and politics and even the factual stuff have to serve the story. And by serving it, I don’t mean overwhelming it, which is what it teeters on now.

I’m reminding myself that all those things serve as the scaffolding for the story, the basic framework on which to hang the REAL parts of the story—the characters, their actions, and their feelings. It shouldn’t distract FROM the story by being too overwhelming or visible.

The thing is, the politics of this time were fascinating. Everyone was out to get their ducal neighbor and spies and assassins and treachery and treason and betrayal were the name of the game. Seriously, when you read the history of this time, you couldn’t make half this stuff up, it’s so devious and far-fetched.

But I also think, especially in a YA book, you shouldn’t need genealogy charts and personae dramatis lists to keep track of who’s zooming who.

My biggest chore is going to be unraveling a couple of entire threads and removing others altogether.

Then, I’m going to remove half the twists and turns, and spread the remaining ones out more evenly throughout the whole of the book. Even more importantly, I need to plan them for better dramatic effect. They need to provide plot twists and surprises.

I thought I had done that, but instead, with the politics so complicated, it feels more like I just kind of splatted them all out there in the hope of not confusing anybody, and thus not only included too much, but didn’t use them to their best dramatic advantage.

I also need to get the word count down. I would love to get it down to at least 120,000 words. 110,000 words would make me ecstatic, but I’m not sure that’s reasonable as it would be an 18% cut. However, if I cut 10% and make sure every word that remains carries its dramatic weight, I think it will be okay. We’ll see.


Mae said...

Editing... URGH, do I hate that. I'm lucky, however- trying my best for a 60,000 word book. Passing up some GREAT chapter breaks for length. Besides, nothing bugs me more than short chapters.

I do love history. I have another sci-fi I'm working on- I need to research 1903 for where would be the most interesting. I'm thinking San Francisco for some reason... Or Chicago...

I am SO getting a blog once my book is finished.*

*And on the path to publish.