I can’t help comparing Damen and Flight, especially when the drafting process is so very different.
With Flight, the goal was to provide as much detail as possible and allow my readers to stay in the Dorienne-version of SVU as long as I could. There were no word count limits; I just needed to tell my story.
Damen has been so tryingly different. Here, I must take word count into consideration with every paragraph, to the point that I must almost re-write chapters to remove some of the detail that, while very pretty and beneficial to painting the scene, does nothing but push my total word count above 120K before I want to be.
A few years ago, I remember writing Chapter 3 of Damen and even then, I thought it was a little too long, but in re-reading it, the detail is so splendid. I see these characters and the setting as vividly as I did when first writing it…but, I have to lose all of it. It all has to go if I’m going to push this thing under 120K. And, 120K is the highest end for first-time authors! I may even have to cut it even further. 😦
I took out some detail this evening that was just plain heartbreaking. When I think of all the time I put into choosing the right words, it all comes down to summarizing the text with “English class, taught by Mrs. Kayler, bored him within ten minutes of the roll call.”
The only good thing I can think about this process is that it’s teaching me to be concise and the true lessons of show versus tell. What good are all these details about what the cafeteria looks like and the nuances of some of Damen’s teachers if we won’t visit any of these teachers later in the novel and it won’t make a difference whether my audience sees my version of the lunchroom versus their own idea of it?
These are some hard lessons to learn.
I’d taken a week off writing notes for Reruns, playing Rock Band and the Sims and even reading other folks’ work for a change as a mini-vacation to make me as fresh as possible for this process, but I’m not sure that was even enough. The only reason I push as hard as I do is that now that I’ve got the novel actually complete, the only thing holding me back from sending this to agents and achieving my dream is how hard I work to pull the book into it’s proper shape.
As dreadful as this process is – tearing apart my baby of carefully chosen words – I know this is necessary and, overall, it’s making me a better writer. All this notwithstanding, I can’t WAIT until I’ve got time to write fanfiction again, where I can be as verbose and detailed as I want to be.
Perhaps fanfiction will be my detailing outlet. Where my creativity is stifled by word counts and the shorter attention spans of the majority of the reading populace, I will find solace in writing what and how I want in fanfiction.
‘Til then…I’m cutting so much my hands are bleeding…