Revising On Paper is Transforming My Novel


Five chapters into the third revision of my novel I feel awesome. Here is the writer’s digest article on revision I’m following.

Revising the second draft helped me get acclimated to tightening my work. The word count of my first typed draft was 89,500.  After revising on the computer I cut 1,400 words. I’ve already cut more than 1,400 words in five chapters revising with a printed copy and pen.

I’m attending the writer’s digest conference from August 1st to August 3rd. I want to peddle my script there. I calculated with revising a chapter a day I could complete the third draft in time. Hopefully I can also read my novel out loud, which is step four in that writer’s digest article.

Last Friday night I revised chapter one. On paper I could see unnecessary words. Such as ‘he skated about a half block,’ turned into ‘he skated a half block.’ Also ‘he was skating’, turned into ‘he skated.’ I also crossed out complete sentences. My first chapter started at 950 words. After revising it became 700 words.  I’ve edited for five nights in a row. My biggest cut was deleting the entire opening paragraph of chapter three. I did so correctly because the action started later.

I began reading Steven King’s On Writing.  He got this good advice:

“When you write a story, you’re telling yourself the story,” he said. “When you rewrite a story, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story.” (Page 57)

Over the first five chapters I’m cutting at least a fourth of the content. Doing this I’m transforming my work. However I figure out how to label my work for submitting it will be a genre novel. I’m not going for highbrow literature. My prose should be concise, and read as a page-turner.

Lastly about novel lengths I found this article. . This article states the average length for novels is 65,000 words. Brave New World is that length.  Tom Sawyer is 70,000.  Portnoy’s Complaint is 79,000 words. Several classics are much shorter. My novel is basically a swashbuckler adventure. Instead of cowboys and women it’s skateboarders and women.  My novel does not need to exceed the norm.  Chapter by chapter I’ll chop what feels right. After this revision it will fall into the average range.

Trimming 88,000 words to around 60,000 makes sense. I am amped on finishing this revision.

As an experiment I printed out a draft of this post, and revised on paper. Anyone tell a difference?

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