Am I Crazy?

I just decided to re-write the first four chapters of The Unravelling AGAIN. For those of you keeping track, this will be the fourth time.

My biggest issue with the way the first third of the book unfolds is that it takes too long to get to the pivotal event, the scene which sets the whole rest of the series in motion. Right now it happens at the end of chapter SIX, a whole quarter of the way into a 100,000-word book. Yes there are events leading up to it that are important for the story as a whole, and there’s definitely some suspense building up to that point, but the more I think about it, the more I feel like a lot of it could go without any loss to the story arc.

My first three revisions I chopped about 8,000 words from those six chapters, and I’m going to aim for at least 5,000 more. It will mean sacrificing two characters that I really like a lot, which makes me a bit sad. They will cease to exist entirely, other than the briefest of mentions. Which leads me to the question, how many characters is too few?

I could also just be second-guessing myself, wondering if I’m really ready to move forward. So far the only person who’s read it and thought it was slow to get to that life-changing event is… me. But then none of my friends or family are editors, more’s the pity.

I’m going to play around with it a bit and see if I like the new revision idea. It can’t hurt, right? Even now I’m thinking of compromises that will allow me to keep my two secondary characters but still shorten that first act. Bring out the pruning shears.

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~ by Nicole Bross on January 27, 2013.

9 Responses to “Am I Crazy?”

  1. I commend you for your tireless efforts at re-writing. I am looking to publish my first two books this coming year. I’m re-writing one of them now for about the 10th time (and will likely re-write again after sending it off to the publisher). As for the other one, I’m actually hoping to get a gig as a playwright-in-residence at my alma mater where I can try out various scenes with students to see if they work.

    Keep up the writing, and re-writing, and re-writing…

  2. Hopefully this comment will make you feel a little better about tightening your intro — I recently went to a writing seminar where they explained that people have such short attention spans these days that novels need to introduce the plot within the first few chapters or else a reader loses interest. So although you’re sacrificing two characters, at least you’re upping the chances that readers will get hooked on the plot and keep reading!

    • And that’s where I’m stuck – I think the plot *is* pretty firmly established early on – there’s suspense, some action, foreshadowing, mystery, which all builds up to this event (someone dies). It’s the point where the story transitions into the second act. So I don’t know. It’s not like it’s six chapters of blah blah blah beforehand… I need to think on it for a bit and see how some of my people who are reading it feel.

  3. I did this exact same thing with my first book. I think the challenge, though, is that its hard to know how your readers will perceive the “delay” without asking them. I recall having someone I trust look it over and she agreed it was a somewhat slow start, but not nearly as bad as I thought. This led to less cutting (which made me happy), but then I found some unique ways of inserting some of the other pieces I cut later into the story. Some of it, of course, just stayed in the round file.

    If there are parts of it you feel need to go but can’t live without, think about asking someone to read it over, or think about ways you can tie it in later in the story (or even another story altogether)

    So no, you are not crazy :) Hang in there!

    • It’s in the hands of a few people and I’m going to get their opinions since they’re not as fixated as me. In the meantime I’m going to sit on it for a week instead of running around like the sky is falling. :)

  4. You edit as often as you need to until the story works. You cut what you have to cut, you keep what you have to keep, you move on. I’ve edited my current project at least ten times now, if not more. Sitting on it for a bit and not thinking about it is a good call. Happy editing!

  5. Read your work not as the writer or editor but as a customer. Does it read well? Easily? Am I entertained? Would I buy this book if I read this in a bookstore?

    This is diffucult to do, but it can be learned. Good luck.

  6. My own first third moves a little slow. I think it is because I am trying to introduce all of the characters in their own time. I understand the frustration. Just be sure to keep a copy of that old draft, LOL!

I wrote, now you write.

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