Comments: 5

I know it's been a while since I last commented here. It's not that I've given up on it, I've just been really busy at work. Being out of town for 3 weeks didn't help, then I was backlogged with office work to do. UGH!

Anyway, I'm back so all my faithful readers (all one or two of you) can breathe easier now.

As for some big (well maybe big maybe not) news. I got a request for a partial of BRIDGE TO DESTINY from a major, super, dream agent. I don't know if she will ask for more or not, but while I'm not holding my breath, I am finding it more difficult to exhale.

I thought today I'd make a couple of comments about revisions. BRIDGE TO DESTINY has gone through numerous revisions since its inception. Even the characters themselves have gone through a kind of metamorphosis. Mark, the main character was originally a pretty wimpy, reactionary kind of guy, but over the years has become more assertive, even aggressive at times. Genie, the main love interest has also changed. Originally, she was something of a drugged out slut. Now, she's a sweet, loving girl who grows to love Mark in the end. Charisse, Mark's first love interest hasn't really changed all that much. She's still the self-absorbed egoist she started out to be. And Gary, he started out as a hippie, became a beatnick, then back to a hippie. He also started out as just a friend to Mark, but in my latest revision he is now Mark's cousin.

Interesting how many changes have taken place in this novel, yet I believe each change has made it stronger.

When I first wrote the words "The End" the book was about 130,000 words long. I soon realized that was WAY too long for a young adult novel. I was told it shouldn't be more than 70,000 words. So, I started in editing a paragraph, even a sentence, at a time. Soon, I realized I could only save about 2,000 words that way and was still too far from my goal. So, deeper cuts were in order. I agonized over this next decision. I knew I had to cut whole scenes if not chapters.

Then, I realized I had some scenes that with some work could be combined with other scenes. I made a list of all the chapters and scenes and began the mental process of combination. Then, when it was solid in my mind, I started work on the actual manuscript. I saved it to a different file name on my hard drive so I wouldn't lose any of my original work in the event I ever needed it. I combined two dance scenes into one and found it actually worked better. I combined other scenes and cut out several others that I figured were not needed if I could put the essence of the scenes elsewhere. After all was said and done, I ended up with a manuscript about 80,000 words. Not quite the 70,000-word goal but close enough.

I think a lot of people who say they don't know where to cut need to take a lesson. Any story can be cut down with some work. I know it's hard work, and hard to see your prose being slashed, but it's often necessary, and I don't think I've ever seen a story being hurt by the process.
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About Paul West

Paul West is a freelance writer and novelist. Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Paul claims to be a "Prune Picker," though he now makes his home in Taylorsville, Utah.

You can follower him on Twitter: @PaulWWest

Published: Wednesday, June 16, 2010

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  1. Yeah, rewriting an entire novel is even crazier. When I was editing *Soundtrack* based on The Pen's suggestions, I changed quite a bit of the first part, which ended up really changing how it read. For the better of course. :-D

  2. I need discipline. The reader doesn't have to know everything about everyone. I hope.

  3. E. Arroyo,

    You're right, as long as you know everything about them and what they say and do is consistent with what you know about them, if that makes any sense.

  4. I agree with the cutting part. It's a hard lesson to learn, but an important one.
    Hi there, I found your blog from QT (I'm MeddyK over there.)

  5. Hi Lydia. Glad to see you here too. I'll keep my eyes open for you at QT. That's one of my favorite forum sites.