Revising — again
If you haven’t already, check out my interview with author Chynna Laird. With four kids and studies for her B.A. in psychology, she has a lot on her plate, but still managed to write and get published two books. She’s an inspiration. If she can do it, so can we.
Quick check in:
Current word count: 16,428
Words written today: 392
Words til goal: 23,572 / 368 words a day til the end of September
I have a confession. For the last couple weeks, after I’ve reached my writing goal in my new book, I’ve been going back to my first novel and working on it again.
I submitted it to agents a few weeks ago, and at that time, I believed that it was ready. I had been through lots of revisions, and I was happy with it. But during my continued research for agents, I read two things that made me think I should give my novel another look: In two interviews, separate agents said they didn’t want to see a novel with an opening scene that shows someone moving as it’s unoriginal (I was guilty of that, but I didn’t think of it as unoriginal, as the move is pertinent to the plot) and I read interviews with different people saying the word count for middle grade novels is between 20K and 50K, topping out at 40K according to one (my novel was a little over 60K, but I had read MG word counts were upto 70K to 80K when I started writing it, so I thought I was well within the guidelines).
I had only sent it to a few agents and had gotten positive responses, but after seeing these things, it did make me wonder if I was hurting the chances of the book. I was well into my next novel, but I decided that I would at least look at my first novel and see if there were changes I could make. If I could figure out ways to change the beginning, I’d try it and see if it worked. All I had to lose was the time.
Two weekends ago, I did just that, rewriting the first three chapters (which had already been rewritten about six times). I found a new place to start the novel and moved a few things around to keep all the pertinent information and story flow. In the end, I managed to cut out 4,000 words and now the book gets into the story much quicker than in the earlier version. It has gotten good reviews from critiquers so far.
I’ve now got around 54K words and would love to get the whole thing below 50K, but I’m not as concerned about the word count as I was the opening. The interesting thing is, knowing that I wanted to cut back on the words, I found myself being more vigilant about deciding if a scene or section of a scene was needed. This past weekend, I cut a scene that was about 1,000 words because I realized that, although I liked the scene, it didn’t add anything new. The action in it reinforced action from the scene before it and set up the next scene, but without it, the story wasn’t missing anything (I did add in a little background in the next scene for flow). Before, when I thought I had a good word count, I left the scene in because it had some fun action. But being vigilant about whether a scene really adds something NEW is important.
I’m very pleased with the changes and have put off sending the book to more agents until I’ve finished going through the whole thing — again. I’m disappointed that I didn’t think of these things before, that I didn’t scrutinize every scene to make sure it was as original as it could be and that it added to the story, moved the plot along. But, such is life. We live and learn.
I’ll let you know how this shakes out.
How’s your writing coming?