The more astute of you will have noticed my absence in recent times. I’ve not quit blogging. I’d never just walk away without saying something first.
No, I’ve been focussing all of my writing efforts on editing Revenge on the Spanish Main (aside from a short handwritten non-fiction story I penned recently that I plan to type up and publish as an ebook). I’m delighted to say that it’s going well.
The focus of this edit has been reducing the word count. The aim of the three previous edits was reducing the word count too. The difference this time is that I’m being a damn sight more ruthless. I’m not finished with the edit and it’s already my most prolific in terms of words deleted.
Something was said to me a while back. I can’t recite it verbatim, but it went a little like this: words aren’t flesh; if you cut them you won’t bleed. The meaning of those words has stuck with me. I realised that losing parts of my novel, my pride and joy, isn’t decimation. It’s a way of improving it. It’s a way of turning it into something that has a much better chance of being published. It’s like putting the story on a crash diet with a healthy exercise regime. I’m giving it a six-pack, pecs, and a glorious pair of buttocks! I’m turning it into something more desirable than what it once was.
I’ve alluded in the past to how cutting words from a manuscript is a hard thing to do; that it’s tantamount to admitting your flaws as a writer. I no longer feel that way. Perfection is almost impossible to achieve the first time. Edits are not only necessary but they’re a great weapon in the arsenal of any writer serious about their craft. I actually love editing! I’ve watched with glee as the word count of Revenge has tumbled by over forty thousand in this edit so far and I know it’s helped streamline my story.
I decided on certain lengthy parts of the tale that, although they added to it in their own way, had no real bearing on it on a whole. No central characters have lost any of their personality as a result and the flow is such that each of these parts might well have never existed. I have, however, had to say goodbye to one or two bit-part characters by doing this. Albert Pentenney and Charlie with the rotten teeth had their moment. That moment has now passed. Sorry guys. Jonah McNally and his first mate, Patrick Andrew, have lost some of their limelight in a courthouse scene that is now no more and the miserable old judge, Fitzherbert, is consigned to nonexistence. It’s a tough life being a character in a story!
As I work feverishly to reduce the word count to somewhere near 210,000 so I can pass it off as a three-part novel, I’m sure that more moments I felt were great initially will slip by the wayside. I have a scene in my mind that I really like and centres on William Hart’s second mate-cum-quartermaster, Enrique Morales. Although it’s a really good scene, I have to be frank with myself and say it isn’t going to impact the story if it isn’t there. Besides which, Morales already has one very big role to come. It’s not going to hurt his character if he loses this scene and it’ll see yet another thousand words chalked off at least.
It’s true what I’ve heard: you never stop growing and learning as a writer. Just when you think you have it all and know everything there is to know about the game, something will pop up that you never knew. Each day brings something new to the table. I’m looking at Revenge entirely differently now to how I was this time last year—this time last week even! My baby is growing up. We’re growing up together. It’s us against the world.
My new job is really getting in the way of my editing, but I’m doing everything I can to work around it. I’m ensuring to edit a few pages whilst on my lunch breaks. It sure beats browsing Facebook—not that that’s a feat too difficult to accomplish! I’m not going to complain too much though given as I’m enjoying the job far more than I thought I would.
Despite the great progress, I can’t see this current edit bringing the word count down to the 210,000 I’m aiming for. To be honest, if I can get it below 220,000 then I think that will suffice. I’m not going to nit-pick over less than 10,000 words. If it’s a problem for those who might want to publish it then I’ll see what I can do; I can’t envisage it being too big a deal.
As far as the blog is concerned, I can assure you that there is stuff coming. I have a few short stories in the pipeline as well as the second instalment of A Survivor’s Apocalypse Story. There’ll be announcements about all of that in due course.
For now, I simply must stop fannying about with this post and get back to editing Revenge. See you soon!
Catch up with all previous additions to this series by clicking here.