I’ve just committed literary murder.
Oh, you’ve been writing again, I hear you say.
No it’s worse than that. The rule I’ve read about a hundred times, and indeed always tried to practice came back to haunt me today.
Old Geezers 2 is not my first novel. In fact, if I include those I’ve either lost or thrown away in disgust, I’ve written fourteen. Every one of them required editing as I’m not one of those (are there any?) writers who can create a great novel at the first sitting.
The lesson mentioned earlier was, as we all know: if it isn’t relevant – then get rid of it.
A case in point. Chapter 9. It’s a long chapter and covers a lot of ground, mostly as a way of bringing the reader up to speed and also to remind him/her of what happened in the previous novel. I spent a lot of time writing it and throughout four previous edits mainly corrected typing, punctuation and spelling errors. But last night I finished it again and realised that it was simply too long, too convoluted and too confusing, though not for me because I’d written it, and the previous novel.
So today I began again. First I highlighted in red the absolutely essential paragraphs and then read the remaining on its own, and to my horror realised that nearly four pages were just me indulging myself and showing just how ingenious I was when it came to paradoxes – an essential element in my SF novels.
Do it, I commanded myself. But no, surely I can keep it but perhaps just leave out the occasional comma. It took nearly two hours but finally I deleted all but what was strictly necessary, cringing at every squeal as my words succumbed to the delete button. My babies, my carefully thought out words were all gone. It’s not as if I can even save them for another novel.
It’s been a hard lesson, and I know the novel will be better for it but all those words sent to oblivion are going to make my night painfully long.