Wednesday, September 12, 2007

L'Engle justifies my revision madness

As with all my books, Starfish was more rewritten than written, and with each subsequent book the need to rewrite becomes more rather than less. As the writer struggles to grow in knowledge of techniques, characterization, theme, more and more work becomes necessary.
--Madeleine L'Engle, Walking on Water

Thank you! I thought I was just growing more and more incompetent with each book. The final version of Voice of Crow was 25% brand-new material; the final version of Wicked Game, 35%.

I'm already tearing apart The Reawakened, and anticipate much more bulldozing to come both before and after I turn it in to my editor. I doubt even half of what's currently written will remain standing at publication.

Make that a quarter, or a fifth.

Hmm, I could go for a fifth of something right now, just thinking about it...

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I've noticed that my sweet spot for a first draft is around 82K. Generally, between my agent and my editor, I'll end up with a net gain of 5-6K of new material (while cutting some old junk and writing new stuff).

Unless my math is even worse than I think it is, I wind up adding around 14% in revisions, which puts us in the same ballpark.

Posted by: Blogger Ann Aguirre at 9/13/2007 11:41 AM

Interesting. I'm the opposite--I always purposely overwrite the first draft, then aim for a 10% reduction from there to the final draft. That's what Stephen King recommends, and I've found it's a good goal for me to shoot for to keep things tight.

So if I'm adding 35% and coming up with a net of -10%, that means I'm cutting nearly half the original material. None of it's wasted work, though--part of figuring out what works is figuring out what doesn't.

Posted by: Blogger Jeri at 9/13/2007 12:12 PM

100K seems really long to me. I've only passed that mark once to date Stone Maiden (epic fantasy) is around 120K, I believe. I always intended to write book two, but sadly, nobody ever asked me to.

Posted by: Blogger Ann Aguirre at 9/13/2007 7:03 PM

For reference, EYES OF CROW was about 112K. VOICE is about 107K. WICKED GAME is less than 97K. Any of those can be read in a day. Or so I'm told. :-)

Posted by: Blogger Jeri at 9/13/2007 8:02 PM

I actually meant from a writing standpoint. Reading, well, I finished Eyes of Crow in less than three hours. I have to limit myself on the time I spend reading or it'd cost the GNP of some small nations to keep me in books.

Posted by: Blogger Ann Aguirre at 9/13/2007 9:39 PM

I wish I could read faster. My TBR pile is turning into a TBR room. No joke. I have an entire Super-Guilt pile made of nothing but friends' new releases from the last few months. That and Warren Ellis's new book. He's not a friend, but he is a Friend (TM) on MySpace. I wish we were friends. I would totally smoke with him.

Posted by: Blogger Jeri at 9/13/2007 10:45 PM

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