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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Weekly Writing Recap

Major Revision/Rewrite of Inspirational Historical #3
Status: 62,000 words out of 100,000

Words added/rewritten this week: 7,000

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I continue to make progress on my rewrite. I found more material from the earlier version I could use this week. However, I also encountered an entire chapter that didn't work, one I liked but that no longer fit due to the new beginning.

Cutting material used to pierce my very soul. There were times I came close to shedding tears when a mere paragraph had to go. Now, I can chop several chapters with one swift tap of the delete key and not feel the whoosh of my heart falling into my shoes.

When I first began writing, I felt a strong attachment to my words. A part of me went into each one. Doing away with them sent me into the early stages of grief. In addition to mourning the loss, I also experienced doubt. Would I be able to come up with new material as good as what I'd written before?

Now that I've been writing for three and a half years, I've grow to trust my ability to produce scenes, chapters and even entire acts that are better than those I removed. My current project is proof. What I whacked was weak writing. The new story is a definite improvement.

An unexpected but pleasant aspect of wielding the knife is that pruning poor portions of a story gives me the opportunity to rewrite them. I get to spend more time with characters I've grown to love and showcase them in a better light.

I've had a good time this week bringing out more of my characters' motivations and deepening the emotion in several scenes. I got to write a new chapter to replace the one I removed, and it's far better than what went by the wayside. Writing a first draft is fun, but I've learned rewriting can be just as enjoyable.

• • • • •

Have you ever felt the ache that accompanies cutting a portion of your story? How do you deal with it?

How do you determine what stays and what goes?

Have you ever read a book with a scene that didn't move things along, one you thought the author could have removed and actually strengthened the story?

6 comments:

Jessica said...

Most of the time I don't mind cutting. But I hope someday I can trust myself the way you do. Right now I never know if what I'm adding is stronger than what I cut.

Keli Gwyn said...

Jessica, it's taken me three and half years and six manuscripts to reach this point. Writing 50K words of a contemporary that I finally admitted wasn't working and setting it aside made cutting portions of my historicals easier by comparison.

I'm sure your stories grow stronger when you cut and add new material. How can I boldly state this? Because we writers continue to grow in our knowledge of the craft with time. In addition, our voices grow stronger with experience.

And despite what I wrote in the post, there are still times when doubt taps me on the shoulder and says, "You think that's good?" The difference these days is that I know enough to talk back to that pesky voice.

sherrinda said...

I am struggling with the editing and knowing what to cut and what not to. I am hoping my dad can tell me when he reads it!!!!

BTW, check out my blog today. I left you a surprise. :)

Keli Gwyn said...

Sherrinda, I think it's so cool that your dad is able to help you. What a blessing to have another writer in the family.

Thanks for the blog award. I'm honored!

Jill Kemerer said...

I find I'm less glued to my words when I leave the finished project for a few weeks. Then, things jump out at me to get cut!

Repetition is what's cut first and too much introspection is cut after. I usually have to add more description and emotions in, so the words tend to balance out.

Congrats on your terrific progress!

Keli Gwyn said...

Jill, like you, my editing is more effective if I let time pass before I return to a manuscript. I'm more apt to see repetitions, weak dialogue, scenes lacking sensory detail, etc. that way.

Unlike you, I often have to cut description when I edit. In my first book, which I wrote before I had any idea what I was doing, I described one dress in a marathon paragraph that filled much of one page. A knife wasn't adequate to perform that cut. I needed a chainsaw. : )