Friday, February 24, 2012

After the Fire

After the Fire is my Hollywood novel-in-progress; written between 2004 and 2006, and tinkered with ever since. I cut 13,000 words this weekend. It's down to a very trim 90,700 words now. There's only one scene that was really hard to give up; but there was just no place for it, and it's already been published as an excerpt so, "Adios for the nonce!"

It's interesting how when you cut explicit words, the imagination provides them anyway. Readers get the idea without seeing the close-up of the naughty bits. I suppose I had to originally write it to see how the characters behaved, but I found that cutting "insert tab A into slot B" the prose got stronger by pointing to those events so the reader can imagine them in the white space.

I want the 90K word count because it feels right: balanced, manageable, and accessible-not because of publishing constraints. I decided to cut one scene because, although it shows my hero slipping deeper into mental illness, the other subject-matter seemed too extreme for the mainstream (he winds up in a bathhouse). I'm finally thinking about my audience. I want to hint at the nitty-gritty, not rub their noses in it. So I'm showing compassion for my readers, lol. I want to attract as wide an audience as I can.

I wrote out of order and without a clear idea of where the story was going, so I wrote about 75 scenes for After the Fire (some MUCH better than others, lol...) but when I pieced the novel together like a puzzle, 25 of those just naturally fell by the wayside. For example, there's a three chapter series concerning the villain's background that never made the cut. So much of what would otherwise have been cutting a manuscript of 150K words (if I'd tried to keep every scene) didn't have to be done because those scenes were never part of the mix. There's still plenty to cut. Smoothing and mixing transitions is definitely the project I face now. Writing scenes out of order and with no narration is a great way to start a novel; however, it just takes so long to finish! Writing scenes out of order and with no narration pretty much guarantees that your scenes will have some kind of purpose underlying them but fitting them together into a coherent narrative is a big effort.

No comments: