A funny thing has happened so far in my novel editing.
I eliminated a third of what was in my first draft. A third! Mostly, that was back story at the beginning of the novel.
Then I inserted new text, primarily for deeper exploration of character. The outcome? My second draft is now 25% longer than the original draft! Definitely not following the Stephen King 10% rule, eh?
Well, yes, but the edit is not yet complete. What I do know is that the Stephen King rule has made me ruthless about assessing whether a passage is critical for the forward progress of the novel. And it is amazing how creative one can get about communicating the essence of a character and/or action when the goal is to reduce and reduce and reduce.
Yet, right now, my second draft is 25% longer rather than 10% shorter than the first draft.
I won’t beat up on myself yet. This is an unfolding story. There will be more rounds of 10% reductions.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction.... The chain reaction of evil — hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars — must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.
The novel rewrite has begun. All I can say is that if the rest of the draft manuscript needs as much work as the first chapter, I am in trouble.
Perhaps, though, I should cut myself some slack. This is the first chapter, after all. It was written well before I had a comprehensive sense of what the final product would be. Now, with the novel’s first draft completed, I can evaluate the all-important first chapter to see if it sends the right signals and to make sure it is not loaded with back story. I can also incorporate nuances about my characters, which have been revealed to me through the process of writing the novel itself. The time lines may be different than first envisioned. Etc. etc. and etc.
So, I will remain relatively scarce from the blogosphere far longer than I had anticipated. I will keep reading your blogs and, time permitting, occasionally comment. On a biweekly basis, I will drop in here with a post.
My writing frequently explores multicultural themes. Born in Puerto Rico, I moved at a young age to the U.S., where my parents became Pentecostal ministers. Early immersion in Latino and religious cultures preceded later experiences as a businesswoman, a White House Fellow, and life aboard a trawler cruising from Martha’s Vineyard to South America. These sometimes incompatible worlds have given me a respectful outlook toward differing points of view. My short stories, poems, and essays reflect my own inclusive, yet sharply defined, journey across cultural and socioeconomic boundaries. I recently published Peace on the Journey, a poetry collection which explores the theme of renewal in the face of adversity.
The defining image of this blog is a waterfall. Its inspiration comes from a scene in one of my novels in which the infant protagonist escapes her mother’s attention and wanders off to a nearby waterfall. While there, she experiences a mysterious sense of wellbeing, which she yearns to replicate for the rest of her life.
"I have made love to my writing and am now in the afterglow."
"Insist on yourself; never imitate. Your own gift you can present every moment with the cumulative force of a whole life's cultivation; but of the adopted talent of another you have only an extemporaneous half possession... Do that which is assigned to you, and you cannot hope too much or dare too much."
Ralph Waldo Emerson
About his fictional town Macondo, widely acknowledged to be inspired by his real home town of Aracataca, Colombia. “Macondo is not so much a place as it is a state of mind.”
Gabriel Garcia Marquez
"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."
"The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers fear."
"The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing."
Blaise Pascal, Pensées
"There is vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action and, because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly... to keep the channel open."