I find it curious how my metawriting posts, where I write about my current fiction projects, often get as much and occassionally more attention than my fiction itself. (An insecure writer might see that as a comment on one’s fiction; fortunately, I only feel insecure when I’m being ironic.) In that spirit, here’s where the Chapter 5 revision stands at the moment.
My goal at the start of July was to revise the first draft, over 47K words, down to approximately 24K words by the end of the month; this length would put the chapter in line with the revised versions of the first four chapters. I began with an outline that took the draft’s initial 23K words down to 16K by the end of third weekend, culminating just before the chapter’s dramatic turn. Reached that point in the narrative yesterday, with a cumulative word count of 16,191 — barely more than 1% over my “budget.” Had to make a lot of cuts to get there, and while I had trouble letting some of that material go, I’m satisfied with the knowledge that the narrative is more cohesive and manageable. (Besides, I still have that first draft saved in a separate file, and can always return to that cut material if it seems necessary.)
Now comes the hard part — getting the final 23K words of the draft down to 8K. Many cuts will be easy, as there’s a lot of self-indulgent material that on further review doesn’t advance the narrative or enhance the characters in any significant way. But even if that cuts out half the remaining material, that still leaves me thousands of words over my goal. Knew this was going to be a challenge, which is why I scheduled this part of the project for the final two weekends this month.
If it were easy, everybody would do it. When I think about the challenge ahead, I envision channeling the energy that will be required to get the job done. No it won’t be easy, but the effort will be exhilirating. Have some outlining to do before I begin on those final 8K words, but believe me, this project is going to be completed.