Saturday, November 16, 2013

Authors Can Add by Subtraction

I had a great day writing earlier this week. Most writers judge success by how many words they add to a novel on a given day. I reversed that. I was happy that I subtracted more than 10,000 words. It had to be done.

My novel took new directions after I attended Donald Maass' writing workshop (referred to as BONI) in September. I got great feedback on my work. I was told I write beautifully. I am great at using certain phrases and descriptions. But I also heard words authors don't like when they believe they have a completed novel.

Cold.

Predictable.

You are capable of much better work.

I don't have such a big ego that these criticisms sent me into a tirade. Exactly the opposite. The people who reviewed my work -- Maass, Lorin Oberweger, Jason Sitzes and Brenda Windberg -- are pros in the business. I listened, I internalized what they said and wrote, and I went home and started plotting ways to make my novel better.

Part of that is addition. There are swatches added to good chapters, and a handful of chapters that include new plot elements. But I had to prune parts that didn't work well. That trimming took away those 10,000 words. I even took two chapters I loved and put them into storage for use in another book.

It's simple math: Addition by subtraction. I am ready to make another editing trip through my entire manuscript, and there will be other changes. As I was told during the workshop, there really is no such thing as a completed novel. A published novel, yes, but never complete.

This is a big thank you to my BONI critics. I needed your slaps in the face and your excellent suggestions. Now, if you'll excuse me, I must go back to editing and revisions.

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