Rewrite Your Draft Novel: Turn a 240,000 Word Monster into a Tidy 100,000 Word Manuscript! Part 2

23 Mar

Here’s a conversation between me and my editor:

Sandy: I just started the rewrite of Mogollon, and counted the words in its multitudinous files. 240K words. Arggh! I thought I had it half rewritten.  Any tips?

Melanie Rigney (Editor for You): Yes

1.   Identify your protagonist.

2.   Identify where he/she is at the beginning of the book… and where you want him/her to be at the end.

3.   Identify the crisis/turning points in the book that the protagonist faces (and wins or loses) within the   book.

4.   Identify the antagonist, what or who is keeping the protagonist from getting what he or she wants.

5.    Consider all your secondary and tertiary characters. If their subplot does not tie into the ultimate and satisfying ending, cut them and the subplot. (Remember Mme. Mercier’s life story [which appears in my new sci-fi that Melanie just edited], and how much better Angel [the sci-fi manuscript] read once it was gone?)

A good way to do this is to use a Post-It to record the action and purpose of each scene. If the scene doesn’t drive the action forward, cut it.

Hope that helps!

This is why I use professional editors. They can give you clear, concise advice like this. This is different than going to your writing group, passing your work by your writer friends, or your blog buddies. Melanie (and many other real pros) will do the same to your manuscript. Slash and burn, I call it. Painful, but necessary.

In previous posts, I’ve talked about Jungian type and writing. I don’t know Melanie’s Jungian type, but from the sample of her writing above and what I’ve seen of her work, I’d say she’s a thinking type.

Notice the spare, clear, logical use of words. Tight. Thinking type.

I can do this. I can. I will. I just have to open the file and get to work. Now.

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