And what a mess I’ve made! In the aftermath of NaNoWriMo! I had a total of approximately 83,000 words at the end of November. When I printed out the manuscript (due to a mess of compatibility between Scrivener and Word), several scenes were duplicated. Beyond that, when I’d started writing some of the “candy bar” scenes, my concept for the novel changed radically somewhere along the way.
For example, my hero had a mother, father, older brother (the heir) and older sister. During the process of his character development, I decided to kill off the mother and older brother to some 19th century illness (probably consumption) and make the hero older than the sister (a lot older, like 10 years). A little while later, I got a great idea for a subplot involving the dead brother and so decided that he died in a duel instead of some disease. All of this made the character concept and motivations so much clearer to me and helped propel the plot forward.
The problem is that I had several of these scenes based on the previous premise and had these people in the scenes walking and talking, etc. Well, since this is not a paranormal and therefore won’t include ghosts, the scenes must be changed drastically. In other scenes, the character concept and motivation had changed so much that the dialogue they were giving made little to no sense.
On top of this, I had divided the story into a series of scenes that in many cases had no connectors one to another. I had no concept of how many scenes to include in a chapter or why. How to group them, how to include a hook at the end of each one, etc.
Thus, I utilized an excess of toner and paper and printed a hard copy. I got dividers, one for each chapter, and labeled them with numbers. I read through the manuscript and massacred every page with red ink. I discovered, in the process, that I had a bit of a “Frankenstein’s monster” of a manuscript. Major, major revision necessary and the last 1/4 of the book needed writing, though at the very lease, that portion was very clear to me and would write itself (1st draft) with little trouble.
After a series of mental gymnastics which felt much like fitting square pegs into round holes, I just started chucking scenes out wholesale. The minute I decided to do that, a burden lifted from my shoulders. I felt light and free and actually enthusiastic about rewriting the scenes to fit the new vision. I knew that they would be better, brighter, shinier.
When I cut/pasted all the scenes I would use into the second draft, I had 61,000 words. Yes. I lost 22,000 words. It smarted a bit, when you consider that the goal I’m shooting for is 100,000. But cutting the bad will make it better. I’m enthusiastic about the second draft. I’ve already written about 10,000 worth of new material.
Writing is a messy business, as messy as sitting at the potter’s wheel, though the caked clay under your fingernails, the splattered clothing and ruined lumps of useless clay discarded off to the side are figurative instead of literal. I have left a trail of crumpled paper from recycling bin to notebook, in case I lose my way. Good thing I wore my working clothes.