I have spent nearly 6 hours today laboring at the revision of my first novel, Soul Lost, to prepare it for self-publication ( I’m tired of waiting for agents and publishers to discover how talented I am). This quarter of a day is but the most recent segment of time I have spent virtually rewriting the original 80,000+ words, because even I am having trouble finding my talent buried in an overabundance of words and convoluted sentences. As I try to peel away the layers to get to the delicious chewy center, I have to wonder how much revision is necessary to reveal the magnificent story concealed within.
I plunged into the revision process eager to revisit the story I composed with such “skill.” Within the first paragraph I realized I had been hopelessly deluded. No wonder I haven’t been able to find a publisher. So what, you may ask, is wrong with it? A number of things that I have since learned to do better.
1. I used too many words where fewer were needed; for example:
“The hills themselves were dressed in the deep reds and yellows of fall on a background of evergreen grasses and the valley was covered with trees either newly turned or the deep hardy green of those that retain their color even in the coldest months.”
Edited this has become: “This was not the large, deep impressive valley of a great river, but instead a quaint cozy dip surrounded by gently rolling hills dressed in the deep reds and yellows of fall.”
2. I did too much telling instead of showing; for example: “Kathryn sighed and said” became “Kathryn, summoning cheerfulness to calm her daughter’s fears, said”
3. I used the “Find” tool to take out most of the ‘justs’ and ‘reallys’.
4. I was redundant; for example: “You think thoughtful thoughts,” has become, “You give thoughtful opinions.”
I could go on and on, but real life calls me away from the computer to other obligations. I am not yet finished, and I fear that if I try to go through it again, even to proofread, I will wind up stuck on this roundabout yet again. Many of my changes are the result of suggestions from a kind friend whose reading was careful, thoughtful, and detailed, so I think I’ll just finish these last 20 pages and call it done.
God help me–will I ever become the writer I want to be?