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Add now / Cut later

October 16, 2007

This past weekend my wife and I took a trip to visit my family on the other side of the state.  4 1/4 hours roundtrip is a great chunk of time to talk about TheNovel, so I printed off the newly minted Chapter 3, and brought it with us.

As it turns out, she was able to find a couple of glaring holes in the plot already, and we discussed some other great ways to rework what we had down so far.  For example, what is currently titled “Chapter 3” is probably going to end up being split into 3 separate chapters.  The main reason for this is that despite the fact that it looks like one chapter in my notes, it turned out to have multiple different focuses – each really deserving their own chapters.  A second example is that one of the uncovered holes will be filled by a brand new chapter being inserted between the current Chapters 2 and 3.  Finally, we talked about a lot of smaller stuff, like artifacts in the world that we’re creating, character names, character back-story, etc..  Addressing this kind of item should help enrich and deepen the universe.

When I started laying out the story, and especially when I started writing it, I was worried that we wouldn’t be able to break 200 pages overall.  As it stands, we’re about 1/4 of the way through my original notes and we’re at 52 pages.  On top of that, we’re now adding notes (i.e., the extra chapter, and some of the additional character and world development), so at this point I don’t think 200 pages will be a problem, and 300 seems to be quite reachable.  Now I’m concerned that by the time we get to the end we’ll be way over what a publisher is willing to print for a first-time novelist-pair, and we’ll end up having to cut stuff out.  That feels like it will be more painful than trying to come up with stuff to put into TheNovel.

So far this road trip has been the most extreme revision session we’ve had, but I think it was worth it.  When the writing started, I thought we would get a draft of everything down, and THEN start hacking and slashing our way through it.  This latest round suggests that if we see a hole, we should probably fill it now – while the material is fresh, and the hole is clearly visible.  I think we’ll still end up waiting until the draft is complete before trying to cut out anything major.

Instead of “Write now / Revise later”, perhaps the guideline to follow is really “Add now / Cut later”.

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