Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Blame (Bless) James Scott Bell

Yes, that is a three-month gap since my last blog entry. Funny how time flies when you're tearing apart a novel. And, yes, I do blame James Scott Bell, whose Ten Commandments for Authors put me on my current route. OK, "blame" is inaccurate. "Bless" works better.

Bell's exact words that triggered this? They are contained in the Seventh Commandment: "Thou shalt make everything contribute to the story." His statement is simply: "Stay as direct as a laser beam."

The problem with my second draft was that it didn't have that laser-like quality. Oh, yes, there is a main storyline, but it is surrounded by lots of little side trips. I had secondary characters who became primary characters far too often. It was like getting on an expressway intending to go from Orlando to Tampa but taking dozens of auxiliary roads during the journey.

So, I wrote, and wrote, and wrote. I tore out entire sections. I inserted new ones. What was the result? I had the same word count, about 101,000. Worse than anything else, I had the same problem. I substituted auxiliary roads with new auxiliary roads.

I am now in the middle of revising again. I am canceling those side trips. I am leaving secondary characters on the cutting room floor, and some pretty harrowing scenes in the process. Such is life when you are trying to follow a laser beam.

There is one other issue I am working on, and that is the genre in which I was working. I will discuss that in my next blog entry. I promise it won't take me three months to write here again.

No comments:

Post a Comment