|A day off, sortakinda
||[Apr. 17th, 2009|01:19 pm]
I have dealt with all my editor's requests (I hope, in the way she wants) and have cut as much as I can without a break from the book,and redone the chapter breaks & numbers.
I was at the point of taking individual words out, turning them over in my mental hands, looking back at the page, and saying "Nope...I really do need a noun in this sentence..." I can't see the work clearly right now, so it's time to back off, give it 24 hours, and the take another look.
I'd like to shrink it another 750 words--that would put it just under 170,000. That's less than one word per page to come out...but we're down to the meat...and I've been slicing off individual muscle fibers already.
It's a big story. And it all wants in. The characters (the POV characters, of course, but also the first-line non-POVs) are clamoring at me. So are trees, horses, and landscapes. ("You don't understand...in the book you don't even have a contract for yet, I'll be VERY important...")
But I've closed the file, saved it to external storage as well as on the disk, and am refusing to look at it. (Its next volume has brightly announced that if I'm not going to work on revisions, surely I can do some first-drafting over there...)
Thank you for setting me a good example. S&S opens for subs tomorrow, and I haven't finished the story I want to send them. Meanwhile this little voice is whispering "Remember that earthshaking story you started years ago that refused to resolve? Here's the answer. See how shiny? Don't you want to play with it instead"
But I'll close the file for now. One story at a time!
A different story wants its chance...oh, yes. I find that I have wonderful! Shiny! Brilliant! ideas for something else whenever I'm having a problem with the one under the fingers.
Good luck on finishing the S&S story...may it fly!
Thanks! Although since the main characters spend a lot of time as ostriches, flying isn't their strong point, but we'll see.
Oddly enough, the Shiny New Idea might make the other story a fit for S&S, if I had a chance of finishing it in time.
That was actually good motivation. Got the story finished, anyway.
Thanks! Needs polishing, but at least I've got something to polish.
You may have written about this somewhere somewhen but I can't remember. Disclaimer: Remembering may be due in part to age. So on with the thought. Why do you have to cut it down? Is this something the editor wants or something you want? I see that it certainly isn't something the story wants. What reasons are there for taking a story down in size besides editor saying it is too long?
I wrote some about it on the Paksworld blog--several posts on editing, both the process and the rationale.http://www.paksworld.com/blog/
However, if my hands don't cramp, I could do a post limited to the reasons.
Thank you. I hadn't really been folowing the blog there yet. That answered a lot.
Right now, the Paksworld blog is concentrating much of my writing-on-writing. Eventually I hope to re-edit my LJ writing posts, and the ones on the Paksworld blog, and put that material on the elizabethmoon.com site--and then move most of the "land" stuff to the 80 acres site. Here's the URL for the "revision" category, that has the editing posts, if you want to take a look:http://www.paksworld.com/blog/?cat=45
I really do need a noun in this sentence
Maybe not, but it helps.
Can I point the next agent who insists that they'll only look at 90-100K mss, because no book needs to be longer, at this post?
It won't do you much good, I'm afraid. It's like all the times I tried to market stories to editors who just didn't like the kind of SF or fantasy that I wrote. Their minds are made up (sometimes for good reasons, sometimes not.)
Most agents prefer to represent what they know is the preferred length...it's harder to market a long, long, book to publishers, harder now than it was 20-odd years ago, unless the writer has a track record of writing very long books that sell well. Why is it harder? Higher costs of paper, distribution, etc. are part of it. The shakier status of book publishing within the big conglomerates that have engulfed independent publishers is another part of it.
But yeah, if you want to try it, go ahead.
I'm happy for people to ask for shorter books, particularly from first timers, but this is a hill I'm willing to die on - I *cannot* tell the kind of story I want to tell in 90K.
As a mental exercise, how would you get Pride and Prejudice into 90K? (It's about 125K.)
One thing I love in a book is to be surprised. If I can see the shape of the plot on page five, and it plays out exactly as advertised, I'm not invested in the story as much as if I get drawn into it. If Sheepfarmer's Daughter had ended with Paks being promoted and finding a home in a mercenary company, it still would have been a nice enough read, but I love that it starts with an ordinary person and an ordinary enough problem, and turns into something much bigger and totally unexpected.
I have no right to give advice...I listened to some, winced, and realized it was probably going to take a long time to get my first novel (over 150K) into print. And it did. But not as long as I feared. And once it sold well, resistance to my writing long novels faded away pretty much.
So I wish you well with it, and hope you catch a break. Some of us are destined to write long, complex story arcs...I certainly couldn't cut this one down to 100K without doing major damage to it.