December 23, 2010

Work Update: editing Xmas Carol

Yesterday and today I drank a ton of espresso and edited Xmas Carol. As I said in a recent post, this is my current push: to get Xmas Carol into final form and out the door to a potential publisher. I'm on the case.

It's been fascinating. My specific task during this edit/rewrite is to decide what to cut. What survives the cutting process will be the final draft of the book. I've never done anything like this before. Cut entire scenes?! It seemed like blasphemy at first glance but that is exactly what I'm doing. Readers like the book but think it's too long. And when I asked them what they liked least, thinking that might point me toward an area to cut, none wanted to lose anything. It seems it's up to me to figure out how to wield the axe.

Today, I suddenly began to understand my job when I saw how some scenes sparkled and moved things along swiftly, while others seemed like detours. Today I axed an entire scene, plus I carved away a large section of another. Poof, they're gone (though due to the magic of Scrivener, they're only hidden from view).

I get it! I'm beginning to see the underlying book, the essential text. It's like being a paleobiologist -- I see the creature hiding in the fossil. And I like it!

I swear, everything about writing is a learning experience. It's as if the book exists within a heavy mist and it's finally becoming visible to me. This editing process is going to blow away the mist and leave a gleaming, streamlined story behind. 

(See how happy I am? I'm mixing my metaphors like mad!)

It this a painful experience? Yes. But anything that moves the book forward is a positive thing. Therefore I applaud it. You have to go with the flow, wherever it may lead. I'm very pleased with what's happening.


Artichoke Annie said...

Hey Keith - best of luck with Xmas Carol. You know I will buy a copy when it is published... let's see... how many more to make the NYT best seller list?????

writenow said...

Thanks, Annie. I hope to have zillions of readers but I'd settle for a hundred (50?). Nice to count you in. And hey, you're on the graphics blog today.