When I add material on Word, it comes out in red ink. So far, on the first three chapters, I've added about 500 words each. Which if extended all the way through the book would make the book about 15% larger. That isn't the goal at all. In fact, the faster moving the story the better, as far as I'm concerned.
But I also want it to be fully fleshed out.
I've now done three chapters of The Last Fedora using the "prose poetry" method.
What I do is, I read the original chapter, then go off with a notepad and pen and just let the words spin. Just visualize the scene and try to tap into the emotion of it and let the poetry side of my brain wander. It's turning out that the language isn't all that much more "poetic," though I tend to use metaphors more. But it is more descriptive. Then I look for places to insert the new material.
Mostly, it's just adding information about the characters or descriptions of the scene. Sometimes I can jigger the tone a little.
For instance, I have a little ten year old boy, Tony, who in some ways is the main protagonist in the book. In the third chapter, I just wanted to emphasize what a positive, upbeat kid he is. (An impoverished kid stuck in a bad part of town.) He uses the term "I'm gonna..." all the way through.
His friend makes fun of him. "I'm gonna, I'm gonna..." Andre mimicked Tony's resolute voice.
That kind of thing. The basic structure and tone of the novel is there. I'm not making any structural changes. I'm just trying to fill in, add a little more texture to the backstory.
So is that a good thing or a bad thing? Does it add or subtract to the book?
I think it's more or less three steps forward and two steps back. The straight lines of the narrative are disrupted slightly in order to give the reader more information. I also have the chance to look for the more dramatic turning points and make the payoffs stronger. Sometimes I can add a nicely formed sentence or a telling detail.
Linda has read the first two chapters and says that overall it probably is an improvement. I'm feeling like it probably is too, if I do it right.
I'm not sure yet whether it will need another editing job after this. I don't think I can afford two editing jobs on the same book. Maybe just ask Lara to look over the sections in Red Ink, and see if they pass muster.
Or maybe just figure that the publisher will be doing a copy-editing job too. So far, I've been handing them completely vetted manuscripts -- and I'm not sure that is normal. Certainly, it's a luxury.
But I'm trying to establish myself, and a little investment at first (if, at first, I mean the first ten books or so) probably wouldn't be such a bad thing. If it improves the book, I should do it. Because the book is going to be out there, standing or falling on its merits. So I need to try to get it right.
Monday, May 18, 2015
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