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February 27th, 2007

Happy birthday, sleigh

Happy birthday, Steve. :-)

Rewriting As An Art

Yesterday's 8 pages brought me to the end of Chapter Nine, and damn if my thoughts weren't on rewriting and how it's a good thing.

So I love Amber. She writes so beautifully I want to delete everything I have in the trunk and on the screen.

She illustrates how rewriting is a good thing. Whether it happens in the first draft or the second or even at some point where "draft" is a ghost of reality, rewriting is good thing.

I believe Orson Scott Card provided examples a few years back when he was writing Ender's Shadow. It's probably somewhere on his site, but it would take me a long time to dig through to find the link.



I should feel embarrassed to show this snippet from the end of the original chapter, but examples help. The material from the first draft comes from the end of Chapter Six, which weighed in at whopping 54 pages. The current material comes from the end of Chapter Nine. I had split Chapter Six into two chapters to address some pace issues. I'm happy with that aspect of the rewrite so far.

The two halves are actually two pages shorter than the original material. Which is interesting by itself because by the time I reached this point in the previous draft, the next chapter started on page 211. It's now starting on page 225. Even factoring in all the cuts and general tightening I expected from the rewrite, I've still gained pages. The new chapter I inserted after Chapter Two to address foreshadowing issues was only a bare 10 pages. While that isn't hard evidence it bears out what I've seen with rewrites:

1) they're tighter and more readable
2) they're potentially longer

FIRST PASS

“So there's time.”

Christoper felt as if a weight had lifted. He had worried that he'd abandoned Joan by coming with Burr. That he had lied to himself when he felt he should lead a charge after her abductors.

“He won't take her until his mind is his own again,” Burr agreed.

Christoper couldn't contain his anger and contempt any longer--he wanted to express his horror, which burned through his gut and made him want to vomit--as he pictured Joan at the mercy of these creatures. “Who the hell is he? Who the hell is Quincey?”

Burr made a face as if he'd bitten something sour. “You might say he's your cousin.”




SECOND PASS

Christopher felt as if a weight had lifted. “So there's time? I can save her?” He had worried that he had abandoned Joan by coming with Burr.

“There aren't any guarantees,” Burr said. “Quincey won't take her until his mind is his own again, but your only choice when you see her ... you might need to kill her.”

Christopher turned away. He felt empty.

Hope tasted like smoke.




I'm happier with this second. Especially the last line. I don't know whether it's as good as what Amber wrote, but it will have to be good enough for me. It's my voice. My rewritten voice. I'm not an artist; the collar is blue here. But rewriting is as much an art as writing itself.

Word Meter Goodness

I saw on the last entry by jimhines that the zokutou word meter is back. So just because I can do it, here's the stats for the rewrite:

Projected Goal
Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
56,250 / 150,000
(37.5%)


Novel In 90 Goal
Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
56,250 / 67,500
(83.3%)


Now, I probably won't need 150,000 words to finish the book. Before the previous rewrite bogged down near the end where it felt like I was doing square peg-round hole, the manuscript was 450ish pages. I can probably make it with 125,000 to 135,000 words. Between 500 and 540 pages, and probably nearer to the 540 mark. I won't need 600. That's just asking for too much unless the story demands it when I get to that point in the narrative again 4 weeks from now.

So here's a "realistic" word meter:

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
56,250 / 135,000
(41.7%)


Forty-one percent isn't bad for 7 weeks. I might have a workable system going here. TYVM, Bear. :-)



Edited at 13:47 p.m:

I notice that if I can make my 8-page quota for the rest of the week (another 48 pages), I'll pass the NIN goal by 500 words, which is only another 46 pages. Crossing fingers and opening the rewrite again.

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