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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

...And Then This Happened

Chapter three of my first novel, Elswyk's Moon, needs help. A lot of help. I made some rather obvious mistakes. (At least, they appear obvious to me now.) The second major mistake I made was to spend way too much time going over the minutiae of Elswyk's typical day.

Elswyk returns to her new home after a long day. She does a little work before getting something to eat and going to bed. She gets up in the morning, and then she goes to work. (She works in a book store.) She deals with customers all morning until her friend comes by to visit. They talk. Then the friend suggests that they go out to lunch. They do. Over lunch, they have a nice, long conversation.

I spent pages on this. I went into detail.

A couple important things do happen in the chapter. I do want to give a sense of what Elswyk's typical day is like. But I can imply a lot of it. I don’t have to go into painstaking detail about everything, such as…

I had a large pile of papers on my desk—about what I’d expected. I didn't look up until I had gotten through the pile. Tomorrow Basalt had meetings and other business matters that would take him out of the building, so I wasn't going to get to spend much time in the back office. An empty desk meant that I wouldn't have to stay here too late tomorrow night catching up on things.

I can cut that entire paragraph and much of the page it appeared on and the story will still make sense. A quick conversation between Basalt and Elswyk when she gets to work (which is already in the chapter) is enough.

Remember how I said the novel was 77,000 words? With chapters like these, I’m going to be down to 50,000 words in next to no time.

8 comments:

Huntress said...

IMO, this is how every writers' mind works. To 'see' the character, location, or background, we must put down the words describing them for ourselves.
As if you're looking through a window. You don't see the window frame, the bush just outside, or the trees. You see the car that is driving by on the road.

Rachel Schieffelbein said...

I had a tendancy to do this sort of thing, too. For me it was often a getting from point A to point B kind of thing. How will they know what's going on if I don't tell them? Um, yeah, they'll figure it out.
At least we fixed it, right? That's what revisions are for, after all. :)

Chemist Ken said...

I've found that it's very helpful to write down a sentence or two describing what the scene or chapter goal is before I start revising. Any words that don't support that goal gets cut. Once I started doing this, I found it much easier to drop passive paragraphs like this.

Angela Brown said...

I would love to say that I don't do this at all - pssshh! Ha! Yeah, right. It's so easy to slip into sharing so many little details because we don't want the reader to miss a thing. But that is the beauty of CP's and beta readers. They can help with finding those "next stop on the subway" moments and tighten things up.

Liz said...

Yeah, true. But then those things must be cut in subsequent revisions...which I didn't do. Sigh.

Liz said...

At least, that's what this next revision is for.

Liz said...

I've only just started doing that, and it is so helpful. Where were you when I worked on this the last time?

Liz said...

CPs and betas are the best. (I'm assuming. I hope to find some awesome ones...after I do this edit.)