07 July 2008

Draft's finished

So this was my plan for the holidays:

2 weeks: working on novel and finishing draft (included going in to work one day for staff meeting)
1 week: stuff for classes
1 week: R&R -- movies, bowling, walking, reading, reading, reading

This is how it's panned out:

3 weeks + : working on novel (and reading one and a half books)
rest: doing the rest of the stuff, which I suspect means very little R&R. Never mind.

This editing pass has taken a lot longer than I expected. The rewrite started at 195 k approx, and finished at 185,663, which was my starting point for this editing pass. It's finished at 178,285. There's something nice about being in the 170s. It's still not quite as low as I'd like, but it's a big story, and I had a horrible thought that I was adding words rather than cutting!

And today it's finished, other than some minor adjustments (I hope) after I get it back from my readers. In the end I cut two-thirds of the words with general tightening -- things like getting rid of prep phrases, cutting repetitions etc. But there were four things I cut at the end that took out a couple of thousand between them:

(i) a scene from the POV from someone whom I'd taken out as a viewpoint character -- so how did this slip through? I think in the end, I'd decided to keep it because it was towards the end of the novel, and he is a viewpoint character in the second, and so it seemed like foreshadowing. The trouble with not using him was that the one viewpoint character in that scene was now dead, and so couldn't convey the scene. In the end though, there was nothing in the scene that was essential to the plot. Wholesale cut. Easy solution.

(ii) cut the guts out of another scene. This was a scene involving a telepathic conversation, where the main character reveals something she's about to do (at the beginning of the next book), which is going to have serious repercussions. I really liked this scene. It seemed like good foreshadowing of the trouble that was to come. The characters she's conversing with used several techniques to get her to change her mind, all to no avail. Heaps of conflict. Snappy dialogue. Fast paced. Working well. Only, when I looked at it again, I thought -- she wouldn't tell them. And she wouldn't. And that was that. It had to go. All of it. All those lovingly crafted words. Gone. A scene has to serve the story, and while the foreshadowing was good, the characters have to be true to themselves. Absolutely. One hundred per cent. And she wasn't being. Really, too, readers are going to get that the consequences for her are going to be dire. They're quite good at picking up the hints -- and we writers have to be good at leaving them room to work!

(iii) and (iv) two nice moments between two of my main characters -- the first from one's point of view, and then a reflection on what had happened from the other character's POV. Neither of these were huge -- a couple of paras each, but this whole idea contained within was no longer relevant after other changes I'd made to them and their relationships with one another. Or not at this point. I may rejig this to reflect something else and use it in the next book. I'm not sure at this point. I do like the idea of what went on, but it just wasn't necessary. Zap. Gone.

On the other hand, there was an earlier scene where I'd cut out a half-page incident between the two of them when I was doing the rewrite, and when I came across it again, I was really sad that I'd done this, so I put it back in the editing pass. Not wholly the way it was. I didn't dig out that earlier draft -- just captured the essence of the exchange in a quarter of the space. It's not essential to the plot, but is a nice character moment for them both, helps define the shifting dynamics of their relationship.

So, as much as I've not had the chance to have that R&R, I have a great sense of satisfaction at having completed this draft. It really is a great feeling!

2 comments:

Lisa66 said...

Congratulations on getting the draft done, Tracey. That's a huge achievement!

Druscilla Morgan said...

Editing is, I think, every writer's nightmare. It helps to share the journey :)