Friday, March 03, 2006

Losing the lovely words

I'm getting ready to start querying on an old project of mine, that I still love but never did anything with. So I recently went through it with a fine-tooth comb, taking out every extraneous "that" and "she felt" and "had been" and all of those other verbal fillers that are so easy to put in but apparently scream "amateur". (In fact, since reading about this in several different places, I'm obsessed with these words and find myself counting them in books I read. Which proves it-there are very few "that"s in professionally edited books.)
"That" removes us from the action. "S/he felt" removes us from the action-would you rather read, "His hands slid down her back" or "she felt his hands slide down her back"? See what I mean? It's actually worse when it comes to things like "she felt herself falling" instead of "She fell".

Anyway. This isn't about minor edits. It's about the dread certainty growing in my very soul (not "the dread certainty that I feel growing in my very soul") that I'm going to lose like six pages of Chapter One. Because, although it's not backstory, it's backstory. It's exposition. Nothing's happening.

I can reorganize things a bit, I think, and fit in some of it in the middle of the action. But I'm afraid I'm not going to get it all in, thus losing not only My Genius Words (HA!) but words from the all-important word count/page count. My chapters run about 25 pages each (standard format). Without this, I'll have a Chap One that's considerably shorter-so short I may have to turn it into a prologue. I don't wanna turn it into a prologue! This book actually had a prologue in the beginning, and a damn fine one too, filled with cold-blooded murder and the terror of little children. I loved it. But I excised it, as ruthlessly as a dermatologist removing a cancerous mole, because it stepped on my big Hero's Motivation Revealed moment later in the book.

Plus, Prologues are pretty rare and I think they're a harder sell. (I adore epilogues, though, and get pissed when I don't get them in my romances. I want to see the H/h again, three years later, with a kid or two and still all happy.)

My point is, I think I'm going to ose some of my wonderful, precious words. Just so, you know, something actually happens in the first five pages. Sigh.



Quillhill said...

December, do you want to share your genius words to get some outside input?

December Quinn said...

I'm always looking for feedback, quillhill.

You don't really live in Oglesby, do you?? My Grandpa lived there-I was born in Peru.

Quillhill said...

I definitely live in Oglesby. Sorry you had to leave before I got here. I lost some excellent writer friends, and haven't been the same since. Where in the UK are you now?

December Quinn said...

I'm in the SW, down by Exeter. We're not sure hwo long we'll stay in this part of the country-it's really, really beautiful, but also one of the most expensive parts of the country to live in. I think we'll be here another six months or so, then we'll start looking into cheaper places to live.

Why Oglesby?

Thanks for coming to my site, btw!

Quillhill said...

I came here by way of a comment you made somewhere else. I came to Oglesby because a big house is still affordable and there was guaranteed work for me. My wife and I are planning a trip to the Isles next spring. We hear there are lots of good old books to be had.

S. W. Vaughn said...

Hi December,

I feel your pain. :-) Just went through this myself with my first novel... I think I panicked my publisher, because the novel is coming out April 15 and I decided to revise the whole thing a few weeks ago. Now I'm past the point of no return -- can't play with another word (sigh).

By the way, I love your name. December and September make awesome girls' names.

Keep writing! If I don't get a link up soon from my blog to yours, remind me, K?

Your new best friend (via Miss Snark ;-),

December Quinn said...

Yay! My new best friend! And you don't write romance, which is so awesome! I love mystery/thriller/action/suspense novels, so I can't wait to read yours. I'd love to be able to write them, but I can't. I try and they keep becoming romances. Like a cart with a broken wheel, my books keep turning left.

Thanks for the compliment on my name. I like it too. :)

And as soon as I figure out how to post blig links here, I'll get your up. I'd love to do a proper blogroll thing but have no idea how. I guess I just keep adding links? I'll fiddle with it tomorrow, as I really should go to bed now.
(A sure sign it's time to go to bed is when I get overly wordy. I do it in person, too. Hubby loves it-trying to fall asleep while I chatter away next to him about nothing.)

Definitely time for bed.