Saturday, August 1, 2009

Falling in Love Again

The thought of rewriting my novel terrified me. I didn't want to dig deeper. It's middle grade fantasy. How deep was I supposed to go here? And certain sentences were too lovely to sacrifice. I made some simple polishes and told myself it was done. I submitted it and waited for the glowing comments.

But when the boilerplate rejections started coming back, I decided to take a harder look at my writing. And it was painful. The story was good. But I knew it could be better. I owed it to myself to make it better.

The beauty of this edit is that I'm falling in love with my book all over again. I'm finding places where I can make the characters and the setting more real, the conversations more natural. I'm adding bits of foreshadowing and making things harder for my MC. And I'm giving the characters leeway to do more. I'm trying things that I thought about before but considered too difficult.

One thing worries me, though. Most people, when they're editing, they're cutting scenes, reducing the number of words. My novel is growing. I've added three thousand words and I'm not done. Yeah, it was only 25K to start, but still. Am I doing something wrong here?


Yat-Yee said...

It's great that you're falling in love with your book again. I think, no matter how sick we are of revising our work, there still needs to be this spark that says, "I believe in you. I think you're special."

My first big revisions ended up having scenes cut. Subsequent ones have yielded new scenes and added words. Whatever it takes to do what you know needs to be done.

H. L. Dyer said...

Don't worry that you're doing something wrong... some folks just write lean.

My novel has drifted between 75K and 95K throughout the course of editing, and my most recent edit (completed with my agent's suggestions)ended up increasing my manuscript by about 1000 words, despite other trimming.

I always find it much easier to edit down than up, so I wouldn't worry about adding too much now.

Good luck!

Rebecca Gomez said...

My first ever MG was only around 15,000 words as a first draft. After all the revising and rewriting and editing, it ended up around 25,000.

That's not very long, so you've got plenty of room. Just don't add for the sake of adding. As long as everything you add really adds to your story, then you're not doing anything wrong.

Anonymous said...

SO impressed! Really--this is the hardest thing to do, and I'm SO glad you're loving it. Don't worry about the word count while you're at this stage--after you've deepened, you can go back & trim at the word & phrase and sentence level, if you need. Now revise to the best book you can. Which it's so clear you're doing. :)

Myra McEntire said...

As I was revising I watched my wordcount edge from 86,000 to 92,000 and rising. FREAKED me out. Then, a lovely epiphany occurred and I'm back down to 75,000 with about 15,000 to come.

It works itself out. It really does. The biggest lesson learned for me is to not be afraid to let things go. As long as you've saved it somewhere else, CUT it. Something else wants to take its place. Most often something better.

You can do it!

Suzanne Casamento said...

Don't worry about length. Just be true to your story. So glad to hear you're loving your revision!

lisa and laura said...

We almost always add words when we revise. We tend to write lean, so we've gotten used to the fact that we'll be filling in lots of holes and adding more detail.

Happy revising!!

Michelle D. Argyle said...

You know that I've been in the same spot with Monarch! I was afraid to scrap it and start all over again, but it's working out for the best.

Like H.L. Dyer says, some people just write lean. Write what you need to explore things, then cut later if you need to. One thing I'm constantly telling myself is that a novel is an everchanging project and we need to let it be fluid. I'm sure Monarch will go through about 5 or 6 more drafts before it's even close for me to consider querying it. And that could take another year or so.

I'm happy to hear you're falling in love again. It's an absolutely amazing feeling, so keep at it!

Michelle D. Argyle said...

I've given you an award over on my blog. You can find it by clicking here. Just scroll to the very bottom of the post.

Anita said...

I think you're just adding the layers to this beautiful onion. I like to just throw words on the page, get the core down and then come back and add stuff to it. On my newest ms, that approach is working very well for me...I think a lot of other people do the reverse, but not all other people.

I can't wait to see your book on the shelves!!! You can do this!!!

Sherrie Petersen said...

Yat-Yee: I have cut as well, but yeah, I definitely still believe in this book.

Heather: I do write lean. I used to get in trouble for it in school!

Rebecca: You're right, I do have room to add. And what I've added really fleshes out the story.

Becky: Your comments helped spark the flame so thanks!

Myra: I have all these versions with different dates so I can pull something back in if I cut it. But like you said, what I'm writing now is much better.

Suzanne: I am (finally) being true to the story and what the characters need to. It's harder, but a much better story.

LiLa: See, we are long lost sisters! My dad taught me to write lean but adding in the details makes it so much richer (and longer)!

Glam: This novel has been an ever changing project and I'm glad the time away from it has given it new life. Thanks for the award!

Anita: The first draft was a throw down. I can't wait to see it on shelves, too!

Katie Anderson said...

You're golden!

I have done just the same thing and it was beautiful! I added about 5k words and it is MUCH better now! I love it! In fact, I just sent off my fulls tonight :-)

Wish me luck!

Beth Kephart said...

Editing for me, Sherrie, is just about this — adding to, refining what is there. We read the book and we see more in it. Rebecca is right though, never add just for the sake of it. The book, in the end, must feel organic.

PJ Hoover said...

I've grown mine. I've cut mine.
there's a place for both.

And I feel your pain on cutting those precious sentences. But there is nothing like a good revision!
have fun with your new love!

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