Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Gutted it.

Just spent the day gutting Faerylander.  Ended up with about 75K words, which is 30K less than the last version, and 50K less than the "kitchen sink" edition.

In other words, I stripped down to the framework, cut out anything extraneous, and combined or removed entire chapters.

I'm going to go through it one more time and get that last bit of fat out.  Probably another 5K words or so.

I have to write a completely fresh chapter that more or less will replace 3 chapters.  It will be the hardest chapter in the book, a really important chapter, and I sort of want to get it right.

Then I'm going to look at the framework and see if it works, or if it needs further adjustment.  Then slowly add back on a little flesh here and there.  Lots of transitions will have to be replaced or removed or changed.

I won't be sorry to have the book be a slimmed down 80K words, which seems to be the ideal size for my novels.

It's an improvement.  I can see that.  I'm sort of trusting the narrative leaps, the implicit characterization and motivations.  

The only thing I still don't know, I still can't tell, is whether I need the 'famous writer' flashbacks.  I mean, I don't need them, but I do think they add an interesting layer.

If I do include them, they'll be detours from a very lean straightforward narrative, instead of detours from a flabby all over-the-place narrative, so it will still be an improvement.

I just seem to be in the groove right now in seeing what words aren't needed.

Here's a secret.  If it bothers me and I take it out and it doesn't affect the story -- then it's an improvement.

I think I've improved all the motivations of the characters.  I've made narrative choices that make more sense.  I finally even figured out how to eliminate the silly plot element I've been wrestling with for ages.  (I just upped the motivation, and now their response doesn't seem so silly.)

I hope I never have to do this again.  I'll have spent three months at least on this rewrite alone, which is crazy.

I didn't have to do this with any of the Vampire Evolution Trilogy, or with Led to the Slaughter.  

My fantasies are looking kind of messy right now.  But when I'm done with this, I may not ever try to save another book that is a complete mess.  I had a lot of motivation on this one -- I really, really like the premise, the characters, the ideas and some of the writing.  Even more importantly, I wrote a sequel, Wolflander, that doesn't need the complete overhaul, so I'm saving two books instead of one.

But after this, either a book works or is doesn't.

Took the second chapter to writer's group last night and it seemed to past muster.  This has always been the problem chapter, the set up chapter where I feel I'm explaining much and describing little.  But I've gone ahead with that to get the information up front-- trying to hint at things in an interesting way.

Two comments really pleased me.  One, from Pam, was that Cobb and Jotun were good "friends."  Which was exactly what I was trying to get across.  The other, from Gary, was that Cobb's motivation for staying human instead of ending his exile was a "good bit of characterization -- makes him sympathetic" which is also exactly what I was trying to get across.

So my attempt to humanize the chapter -- so to speak -- seems to have worked. I mean, if the exact things I was trying to accomplish are the very things that are commented on, that's incredibly encouraging for the rewriting process.

I needed that.

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