Monday, November 28, 2011

Reworking the Novel

Revision has been the name of the game for me since school began fourteen weeks ago, and a lot of that revision included working with short stories. The amount of things I've learned from revising those stories, which I'm still working on, has helped my writing so much it's crazy. When I write fresh pieces, teasers, whatever, I do a much better job of getting what I want to say written down.

A little over a month ago, I picked up my novel House in the Hills. The story shocked me with its beginning, including violence, profanity, and just messed up shit. Since then, I haven't been able to stop working on it. The story is literally growing as I continue to revise it. Using knowledge gained from revision sessions on my shorter material, I've been able to make my MC so rounded and palpable (at least to me anyway) that I feel I could meet him walking on the sidewalk during a cloudy day.

The novel is a redemption story, containing drama/fantasy/horror elements. I flushed out a lot of parts that needed it, for example, what the MC did after his mother passed. In the original, he simply got home and went about doing something else, which felt like he was wasn't acknowledging the pain I had built up in him to just brush off after the passing of his mother.

Of course, with more flushing out, means more writing. I've probably added about eight or so single spaced pages in the process. And as I continue to move deeper into the story, there is more I want to flush out, but I'm starting to feel as if I could be bogging the story down. While a novel is a work of art that consists of a journey from point A to point B, I want to make the story every bit as good as it can be. But where does the writer understand when too much is too much?

Right now, I'm wanting to flush out more, but I feel if I do, I may be slowing the progression of the story. However, I have a pretty strong feeling that if I move further into the story, I will add more as I move through like I've already done, there's always more I want to insert. So, to those of you who are reading this right now, I have a question. Is 40-45 pages of single spaced writing too much before the main focus of a story is reached? I want to add a little more to make the story a more interesting, such as adding a different surrounding and adding more struggle with the MC against a fantasy wolf created from the vines of trees.

Should a writer concern himself with the length of a story later and focus on getting everything out, or should there be a focus on keeping track of story progression during revision?


  1. I'm not sure what 40-45 pages of single spaced writing is in regards to word-count and therefore in regards to book page count. It could be about 90 pages, maybe 100 in a book, so I'd say it depends on the length of your story and whether or not it's info dumpy of if the pacing works.

    There is no rule of thumb that I know of - you just don't want it to feel stagnant. Make sure you're always doing 2 of the 3 things.
    Progressing character development
    Progressing the plot
    World Building

    That's I what I use as a guideline anyway. As long as your pacing is good, you should be fine. Besides, it'll need another revision pass anyway ;) we always do.

  2. This makes me feel a lot better. I don't really know the length of the story because I know it'll get longer the further I progress in the story. I personally don't believe that any part of the story I've touched up feels stagnant, and I just came up with a few ways to develop my MC a little more. :D Thanks for the post KT!