Thursday, March 24, 2011

"Omit needless words."

...And so the revising begins.  It's been long enough; nearly a month, in fact, since I wrote the word "Prologue" and started to tell the story.  Last night I started reading it again--out loud--to Heide, with pen in hand and the clear dictate from the Gospel of Style according to Strunk & White, "Omit needless words," at heart. 

Part of what I'm going after, admittedly, is lengthening.  There are a couple of things I already know I need to expand upon; I'm just not yet entirely sure where to put the expansions.  Plus, from a practical matter, the book isn't long enough, and I hope to lengthen it in a good way from 68K words to 80-90K words.  It's just that as I do the lengthening, I have to keep in mind King's First Law of Writing: Don't Suck.

It's actually not hard, and in fact it's quite fun as well.  As I was going through revising this morning I idly wondered why I hadn't done more revising on my papers in college, but that was easy enough to answer.  I didn't give a crap about most of the topics I wrote about in college.  It was hard enough pretending to give a crap one time through, but a second?  Wasn't gonna happen.  This time, though, it's a story that was mentally birthed by me, and so not only did I enjoy writing it, I also am enjoying reading it, and I'm finding I'm enjoying re-writing it.

It's needed, too. Ferinstance (and this is a no-shit ferinstance): "Matt nodded, then turned to face westward. A clear expression on his face, his hands began raising from his sides as the twelve on the outside drew in deep breaths in apparent surprise." Did I really allow my mush-mouth evil twin to write that crap into my story? Really? What was I thinking?

Now: "Matt nodded, turned toward the West, and slowly raised his hands."  There.  Now that doesn't suck.  Costs me a little in the word count arena, but remember that every author and editor I've read on the subject says to only make the story long enough to tell the story.  It's succinct...everything that was in the original that's not included in this version can be picked up from context.  I mean, the guy is levitating several hundred people off the asphalt.  Any reasonable reader would expect them to display "apparent surprise," right?

On the other hand, I am adding plenty of words.  I realized, going through, that a) I'd never really described the main characters in the beginning, and b) I'd given Matt's boss a couple of kids later in the book without having them actually come on the exodus with the group.  How'd they get there, then?  So I cleaned those discrepancies up a bit, while reading over it with an eye toward removing suck.  Two chapters un-sucked, 22 to go!

Word count: Oh, bite me

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