Revision part 100—Help??

I don’t remember how many revision blogs I’ve written, but it feels like part 100 because I lost track long ago on how many drafts of my WIP I’ve been through now.

Revision dilemma for the day:

I never thought I’d be writing about “killing babies.” I knew *other* writers sometimes had to delete their favorite, carefully crafted sentences or scenes. But not me. My problem was fleshing out the bones in hopes of coming up with over 50,000 words when it was all said and done.

So how did I get to 69,000 words?? Yes, that’s right. After adding all the details and scenes my wonderful editor-mentors suggested, I now have to delete 30 pages.

This is the part where I have to question: What is this scene accomplishing? Is it necessary? What will the book lose if this scene were gone?

I’m also reading the whole book out loud and deleting repetitive descriptive words.

And so far these ideas have cut one whole page.

Any other ideas on slimming this monster down?

Revision Triumph of the Day:

I have a new first chapter the writers group likes. I’m hoping editors agree.

I’ve learned a lot the last three months, but this one is big: Write the first chapter last. I’ve been given this advice before but never followed it because I’d worked so hard on my first chapters in hopes of grabbing an editor’s interest; it seemed dumb to push the chapter I’d agonized over to chapter two or three.

I’m converted now.

Why write the first chapter last? Because by then you know what your character really wants and can start the book off by showing your readers what the conflict is going to be all about. And often the best books start out with a rifle over the mantle—the one that goes off in the climax. How can you know where to place the gun in the first chapter—how can you know what the “gun” of your story really is—if you haven’t written the climax yet?

Thanks again to all the smart people who are writing my book for me.

Question of the Day:

How do you go about killing your literary babies? How do you decide?



Filed under Revising

11 responses to “Revision part 100—Help??

  1. Ugh. I wish I had a finished book with 30 pages that needed to be cut. Maybe we can trade. I can cut 30 pages from your WIP and you can add 30 to mine. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. so you finally have to cut words? Welcome to the crazy house.

    I love your first chapter. And I’m loving your book.

  3. You give it to me and I strip it down and cut out all “unnecessary” characters. Heartless, that’s what I am. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Kim Reid

      That’s why I sent it to you! I’ll do some heartless editing for you when you’re ready . . . if you let me. Thanks again for your help.

  4. What a fascinating concept. I’d never heard of a first chapter last but I think it’s a GREAT idea! Thanks, Kimberly.

    As for slimming things down, I find that you can actually cut a lot down but looking at sentance structure alone. Making sure each sentence is active (verses passive: was, were, had, etc) can really slim that baby down. Well, it does for me, anyhow.

    • Kim Reid

      Luckily I’ve already cut 5,000 words and only deleted two scenes, so this word-by-word approach may really work. Thanks!

  5. I’m still working on making sure the concepts make sense. My rough draft is currently pushing 85,000, so I’m going to need to do some serious hacking when the time comes.
    As always your posts are illuminating.

  6. Margaret Mitchell wrote the last chapter of ‘Gone With The Wind’ first and then sort of jumped around with a chapter here and a chapter there (while she was recovering from a broken leg and had already gone through every book in the library). I always thought that was kind of cool!