Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Things Are Rarely As Bad As I Think They'll Be

I finally sat down to tackle the chapter of my manuscript that I was scared to work on.  As I said in a previous entry, my editor was asking me to make some pretty extensive changes and I was afraid I didn't want to make them and also that I couldn't make them without making a mess of the whole chapter.  I felt like it was going too far from my original image of my main character.

As I can't seem to remember from incident to incident, it's almost never as bad as my worry-prone mind makes it out to to be.  First of all, she told me I needed to expand the action in one scene.  That wasn't hard at all.  It was the opposite of what I normally get asked to do, which is cut, cut, cut.  But what I need to cut is the stuff in between the action scenes.  I'm being asked, to quote the great philosopher, Elvis Presley, "[a] little less conversation, a little more action please..."  So I took a paragraph of barely implied action and turned it into 2+ pages of explicit action.

The other issue was the harder one.  I like the action, but I like to bloviate too.  I'm learning--very slowly--that I can't keep both.  The reader apparently wants the narration to be economical and straight to the point but the action should be as developed and as detailed as possible.  They want to feel like they're in the room or the car or wherever the shootout or chase takes place.

So I just did it.  I didn't want to, but I started cutting and suddenly it was almost the end of the school day (I just supervise credit recovery and in-school suspension students now that my seniors are gone) and I was a full seven chapters past the scary part.  What's more, I began keeping track and cut more than 500 words in those chapters, and made the story flow at a much better pace than it had before.

So I'm almost halfway there; I think I'll be ready to shop this puppy before the end of the month, so maybe I'll have an agent by the end of the summer.  I can't properly explain how much I want that.  I can't remember anything I've wanted this badly since I became a grown-up.


  1. I should point out that when I say explicit, I don't mean dirty. I mean highly explicated, as in greatly detailed.

  2. I'm rooting for you, Joe! You can get that baby published!!!! Boy. Nothing like those dreaded chapters to work on!