Trusted Reader Confusion Dispelled
Well…I finished the Second Revision…again.
If that sounds familiar, it’s because I announced the same thing a week ago.
Then Trusted Reader comments ruined everything. To bad…so sad.
Four confusing things. But how did they apply to my story. So, I dug deeper. Between her thoughts and my suspicions, I found 55 changes in 16 of 18 scenes.
But I couldn’t deny several underlying scene structure problems. One action scene used too much front-end material. The solution? Rewrite the scene without the front-end material and save it for a rainy day…which came the next day in a new scene which established another scene.
The next problem involved the scene which launches the MC into the real story. With story proportions for a guide, Part One had grown too large, while Part Two needed help. With clever wording I split the decision scene, shortening Part One a touch and created a new scene for Part Two, helping a bit.
With that the time had come to work the Trusted Reader’s biggest problem…world building. On reading the scenes, I found plenty of material, but it didn’t come across clearly, or early enough. I pushed word count fears aside and piled it into the scene preceding the big decision. Part One bloated up until it bulged, threatening to split out its pants. Though desperate to cut words, I waited.
Another comment that hurt was my MC falling out of love with one girl and in love with a new one…too quickly. With the rewrite, he slowly falls out of love with the first, but isn’t sure about the new one. I’m sad for the first girl. Maybe she finds happiness in another book.
And the MC’s friend’s role grew, giving him agency, helping a plot twist.
But these improvements cost a thousand words…pushing the story to 16,000, well beyond my 12,000 word target. Worse, story proportions were dreadfully out of whack, with Parts 1 and 3 using nearly two-thirds of the words. Yikes.
Though aching to start Rev 3, the longer I waited, the harder cuts would be. Rather than have that hanging over my head I looked at word counts one more time. I started with shifting everything possible out of Part One into Part Two, but that helped only a little. Teeth gritted, I set to work on my least favorite writing task. Scene by scene, I listened to it with a text-to-speech app and straightened out things displeasing to my ear. Then I used an Excel app to sort the words from most to least used. After that, I started at the top of the list and looked at where each word fell. And I kept going until I got through all words used ten or more times.
As an example, the ranked at or near the top as the most used word. I plugged the into the Scrivener search bar and let it highlight every instance. Then I read each sentence with a the to see if I could either eliminate the word or find a more interesting way to express the dialog, thought, description, or action beat. And I kept going down the list. Without fail, by rewriting, I cut about ten percent.
Did I fear loosing precious thoughts and ideas? Yippers.
Did I? Nope.
Four days later, 1,300 words littered the floor. Though 2,500 words over, I’m closer.
I wanted my Trusted Reader to take another look, her perspective is clouded. I will ask her to Beta Read. If I fixed the world-view problem everything else should be easy. If not…time to pull more hair.
Rev 3 and character arcs come next. And I’ve already added up all the things I want to look at for eight characters in the nineteen scenes. At the moment, I have 77 things to look at.
I have no idea how long Rev 3 will take, or where my word count is going…but 12,000 words seems impossible.