Friday, October 10, 2014

Reviewing Rewrites by Word Count

First Draft: 50,365
Take 2: 50,628
Take 3: 30,125

The first draft of my novel came together for the 2010 National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo. As I’ve mentioned before, I reached the 50K word goal, but the work definitely failed to come together as a novel. I had bits and pieces of character development, some scenes worth salvaging, and two endings. The next two attempts at rewrites didn’t progress very far and I abandoned it for the most part.

Version 4.0: 5,832
Version 4.1: 18,718
Version 4.2: 42,515

The Version 4s started over and slowly progressed with renamed characters and a reworked plot. My biggest failings were still pretty much the same as before—revealing too much too soon and assuming the reader would know as much as I did about the life and times of the Bishop Hill of my imagination. Not so good by any count.

Version 5.0: 48,146
Version 5.1: 59,485
Version 5.2: 66,832

Version 5 and beyond were definite improvements thanks to loads and loads of the small rewrites and little tweaks I inserted whenever and wherever the mood struck. Better in a lot of respects, but I knew the end result wasn’t necessarily a smooth product.

Version 5.3: 68,503

Version 5.3 was produced during the 2013 NaNoWriMo marathon month of writing. I joined a writing group at Books-A-Million and sat in the coffee shop with a paper printout of V5.2 and totally retyped the whole thing. That had the advantage of finding many of the rough spots and as well as adding new material. I thought this version good enough to send out with agent query letters.

Version 5.5: 69,252 (ongoing)

Version 5.5 is what I’m working on now using some feedback from a potential agent. I was asked for “polish” and “immediacy.”

I think I know what “polish” means. It’s all the little technical things I wasn’t sure about and had glossed over because a copy editor would probably fix them for me. Sometime. Down the road. Well, this is down the road and I have to deal with them.

“Immediacy” will be a bit trickier. This seems to be more of a style and substance issue. This is improving my characters and their interactions. This is me improving the character arc for my protagonist. This is getting all my ducks in a row from subtle clues to the final denouement.

Fortunately for me, Version 5.3 was fun and less of the hard work of all the previous attempts. Version 5.5 is also shaping up to be much easier and more enjoyable. I hope this means I’m finally getting the hang of this novel writing thing. It would be nice because the next NaNoWriMo is coming up and my tentative title is: Book Two.

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