does not describe me fully
it is where to start

Sunday, September 25, 2011

10% or Bust!

When I edit, I usually follow the Stephen King 10% rule.

2nd Draft = (1st Draft – 10%)

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.


Shauna said...

writing it seems is basically about
the editing...putting baby on a
strict diet so to speak.

however, I've read quite a few King
novels and he doesn't always follow
his own advice.

Judy Croome said...

I would much rather cut out than add in - I find it so difficult to add in scenes. So I think 25% more is quite an achievement! And congratulations on getting so far so quickly with your new novel (Even though I don't want to be a one book wonder, I'm procrastinating like mad with starting my next novel!)

Judy, South Africa

A Cuban In London said...

Your last sentences says it all. Writing's an unfolding story where the process is as interesting and sometimes more interesting than the result. :-)

Wish you bucketloads of luck!

Greetings from London.

Nevine said...

Oh, the woes of editing! But I do love that 10% rule. I remember reading that book by King... three times... and it still sits on my bookshelf. He knows what he's talking about... so I keep the book.

Best of luck with your edit... and your edits to come!


Judith Mercado said...

Shauna, a diet is right.

Judy, cutting is more an acquired skill for me than is adding.

Cuban, an unfolding story, yes, as is all of life, isn't it?

Nevine, I keep the book, too, because it actually has been helpful though, as Shauna mentioned, he does not always pay attention to his own advice.

Mohamed Mughal said...

My hat's off to you for having the courage to take a knife to needless prose!

Judith Mercado said...

Mohamed, thanks for the encouraging words.

A Cuban In London said...

Thanks for your kind comment, Judith. I should have also mentioned that some authors do take previous classics and turn them into almost unrecognisable masterpieces. For instance, Angela Carter "The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories". Fairy tales retold with a new twist. Go figure! :-)

Greetings from London.

Shaista said...

Having just read Junot Diaz' Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and knowing it took him a decade to piece it together in just the way that was ultimately right, I feel much more relaxed about the whole process of novel writing.
Of course, I doubt whether Diaz would wish those ten years of his life on anyone else, even with a Pulitzer at the end to show for it!
I hadn't heard of this King rule - which book is it from?

Judith Mercado said...

Thanks, Shaista, for stopping by. The name of the King book is On Writing, a Memoir of the Craft.