This week I've been busy tearing apart the first several chapters of my novel and sewing it back together and giving myself grey hair in the process.
I attended a writing and revising workshop on Saturday with Brian Henry who runs the fablous site Quick Brown Fox. This was my first writing workshop and found it well worth the eight hour round trip, even with my two imps. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to share my first 1,000 words with the group and receive feedback. Brian suggested I take out the first part of chapter one to start closer to the action, which was something I had been considering but wasn't sure about. One thing I learned at the workshop was that I need to trust my instincts more.
So, I started cutting and realized that I really didn't need the end of chapter one, since the whole point was for my main character to meet her love interest. Why not have them already dating? How they meet isn't vital to the story since the core of the story is about her struggle with her nightmares, not their relationship. Out came the scissors again and I kept cutting, eliminating 10,000 words in the process. My mantra the whole time was, if I don't like it, I can always change it back.
Now I've successfully worked out a new beginning for my novel, made the story tighter and have a word count under 100,000.
It's almost liberating to start cutting up my manuscript but frightening at the same time. I worry that I'm losing the feel of the story or that it's not going to work. At the same time, it's like putting together a puzzle and working to fit everything in the perfect place so I have a wonderful picture at the end. Mind you, like a puzzle, I was throwing my hands up in frustration a lot.
I have read other posts by writers, talking about the need to cut scenes, even ones they are extremely attatched to, in order to make their story stronger. I totally understand it. It's not easy, and I've cut many scenes from my novel already but when I went back and read the manuscript, the story wasn't lacking. Maybe someday, when my book is published, I'll put up some of the deleted scenes on my website.