Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Word About Revisions

In case anyone didn't hear me banging my head against the wall when I finished my WIP and tallied up the word counts from the six (count 'em, SIX) documents I had broken it into...the thing turned out to be 244K.

*glances around*

Hmm. With so many agents prowling the blogosphere, maybe I shouldn't be admitting that aloud.

(DISCLAIMER: This 244K mutant was a complete fluke! I do not usually produce books that are so monstrously long! And I am fixing this one! Honest! Hence the reason for this blog post! *stops abusing exclamation points*)

Anyhow, as I'm sure you can imagine, trimming hacking and slashing a 244K novel down to size involves some pretty massive plot changes. Subplots must be amputated. A crowd of minor characters must be evicted. Entire chunks of plot are being tossed to the curb and the jagged ends of what remains are being smoothed and soldered together.

Or so I hope.

All I have right now are pages of notebook paper covered in doodles and word webs and notes that say THIS CHARACTER HAS NO PURPOSE! CUT HIM! But soon (today possibly) I'm going to have to actually start the writing part of rewriting, and it's a strange feeling.

My book-world seems to be existing in two parallel universes. In one universe - the bigger universe - my MC spends several months and four chapters at her grandparents', safe and sound. She also has a best friend named Rory who helps her and comforts her when two lesser antagonists start antagonizing her and life generally starts going to hell in a hand basket.

In the second universe - the new, sleeker, shinier universe - my MC does not get any time to be safe and warm and well-fed at her grandparents'. Instead I'm chucking her into the midst of misery straight off, my two lesser antagonists have been replaced by one bigger, meaner, scarier antagonist, and Rory is sulking in a corner of my brain because he was taking up too much page space and preventing me from completely overturning my MC's mental state.

Now, this all sounds well and good, right? (Right? Right?! Someone tell me I'm doing the right thing here! Because Rory is sweet and sensible and I love him and I just about had to use the jaws of life to get him out of that plot line!)

Ahem. And that brings me to the point of this post: sometimes revisions can be painful.

I've never made so many changes, or such drastic ones - but that's because I've never spewed out such a gigantic book. But these changes (I hope) are for the better. Even if I have to cut characters, subplots, and dialogue that I loved. Even if I'm madly juggling right now to keep stakes where I want them and mash timelines into shape so that everyone is where I need them to be when I need them to be there. Eventually, it will all come together into one shiny novel, that is better and sparklier and yummier than the old one. (Right?)

And then I shall send it out to betas and revise some more!


  1. Yayyy - at least you know what to do!! I'm so excited for you. :)

  2. G'luck with the revisions, Becca! You bet Fire and Ice will come out shinier, sparklier. And you ARE DOING THE RIGHT THING.


  3. I can honestly say that I've never written a 244K novel. I would probably jump up and down if I did. Friends and family would say "WHAT?!! That's insane." And then I'd trash the majority of it. But wow, good on you!

  4. Hear hear, Becca! Sounds like you're definitely on the right track. But from someone else who's had to half her manuscript and still has more insane cuts and revisions to make, I feel your pain.

  5. With a wordcount like that, you could always just cut it into three and call it a trilogy.

    Seriously though, I don't envy your task, but I do believe you'll wind up with a nice tight final product if you can keep the essential elements of your story. Good luck!