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.