Well, for those of you following along at home, two weeks ago I posted Revision Indecision, where I spoke of how my story ran off the rails. Well last night I wrote the two most special words in all of literature, “The End.” I have somewhat officially finished the second draft of Steam Palace, and it wasn’t easy. It was like a wrestling-style Battle Royale with my characters, trying to force them into some semblance of a conclusion to their adventures while they fight each other tooth and nail.
Here’s the thing. I’ve given myself a deadline (hence the guillotine). September 1. I want Steam Palace completed by 9/1/2010. Done. Out the door. That’s 60 days to go from draft to finished product. I have other projects to work on. This revision has taken forever, and right now I don’t feel much closer than I did on Dec 1, 2009 when I finished the first draft.
So what have I been doing the last seven months? Beats me. Endless analysis followed by endless planning followed by endless rewrite. My characters are way better, the story is better, and the ending, while not quite as dramatic, probably is better as well. More meaningful.
Here’s the situation. I finished with ~115K words, up from 80K in the first draft. That’s 35K additional words. I need to cut it down to at least 95K. I know I’m still a little sparse on description, setting scenes and transitions, so I need to cut first before I flesh out those problem areas. Then cut some more. This is clearly the most painful part of the process, but it’s a key skill I will need. I must be ruthless. Heartless. WWVD?*
My plan is to run through every single scene, writing down all problem areas, and scoring the scenes. Check out this example of what I do. Then anything with a bad score—cut. Any characters not pulling their weight—cut. Any subplots not supporting the main plot—cut. Then patch up all the holes, rework all the scenes into a tight POV and clear prose, and send it out. Simple, right?
And, to incent myself and keep myself focused, I’ve decided to host another blogfest, tentatively on August 31 ( but I might push it to Sept 3). I must be finished by this date or no blogfest! Stay tuned for more details. It will be the bestest blogfest eva!
On September 7, I will be sending out queries. Look out world, here comes Steam Palace!
*What Would Viola Do? Okay, I know the answer to that…cut all the scenes with Sophia.