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War declared! 323 casualties on first day of battle.


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This evening I officially began my first shortening pass for Peace, Like Solomon Never Knew. I killed 323 words from the first chapter. At this rate, it will take until Thanksgiving for me to finish my edits and reach my target length! That is longer than it took to write the whole manuscript!

 

This is my least favorite part of writing. However, when I do it well, it is like vacuuming out all the awkwardness. Long sentences become readable. Worthless phrases go to meet their maker.

 

To make it bearable and let me see how much progress I am making, I keep a spreadsheet with a row for each session, with the starting page number and word count and ending page number and word count. I have a formula to compute the average words per page that I removed. If that measure is too low, I force myself to go back over that chapter to find more dross.

 

This will teach me to never again write a 230,000+ word book!

Edited by paulchernoch
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11 hours ago, paulchernoch said:

This evening I officially began my first shortening pass for Peace, Like Solomon Never Knew. I killed 323 words from the first chapter. At this rate, it will take until Thanksgiving for me to finish my edits and reach my target length! That is longer than it took to write the whole manuscript!

 

It's worth the time, though!

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38 minutes ago, paulchernoch said:

 

Whose side are you on, mine or those evil words?

I'm Switzerland. I'll be on both sides at once.

 

You presented a very inspiring personal testimony here, elsewhere. If you can use and convey some of that experience in your book, I predict a great and fruitful alliance between you and those words, and you my touch many lives.

 

Today, Great Britain is one of the USA's strongest allies. Yet it wasn't long ago that we fought two wars against them, and losing either would have ended in our extinction. Yet here we are.

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2 minutes ago, carolinamtne said:

So how long is War and Peace? I wonder how long his original draft was.

 

(word counter.net) War and Peace has 587,287 words,

 

So, Paul, it's only 39.1822828% of Tolstoy's book. (Thank you, Excel.)

 

That's 'cuz Paul's only handling the Peace side. As he said, the War side is getting handled privately...

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   Don't you start editing before the entire first draft is completed?

   When I'm writing a first draft, I'm constantly checking and correcting the spelling, and the wording.  I make sure that the phrases flow smoothly. 

   I've sometimes said that writing isn't magic.  There's no hocus pocus, but there's a lot of hokey pokey:

   "I put the sentence in.  I take the sentence out.  I put the sentence back in.  Then I shake it all about.  I do some hokey pokey, then it turn it all about.  That's how it all comes out.  Yes sir!" 

    I do the same with every paragraph, every chapter, and the entire writing while I'm composing the first draft.  That's what keeps me from writing too many drafts.

   Maybe you should try it yourself. 

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2 hours ago, Ky_GirlatHeart said:

or actually about someone where murdering and pillaging

Definitely murdering and pillaging. I make frequent reference to history in my book, and history has lots of wars. Especially the 17th century.

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As SW says, itwill be worth the time and effort.  The benefits will come with your next work - you will spot the padding as you write and develop a self-edit hoeing skill.

 

My first novel - the self published YA novel - I cut from 150 words to 75. Almost 50%. It was painful but well worth it.

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5 hours ago, William D'Andrea said:

Don't you start editing before the entire first draft is completed?

 

I did light editing during the first draft. My problem is that as I wrote, new ideas occurred to me that were not in the original outline. That doubled the length of the book. In software, we call it scope creep.

 

Every hundred pages or so I stopped, did a complete read through, checked if I had drifted from the plan, left out something important, introduced inconsistencies, repeated myself, etc. I also tried to make the transitions between chapters smooth and make it clear to the reader what we just finished and where we are going next. (I will do that again, as part of my final edit.) These periodic read throughs caught some of the typos and missing words.

 

Years ago, I read Write Tight by WIlliam Brohaugh three times and began to put it into practice. Consequently, my first drafts are not as flabby as before, but editing out verboseness still consumes most of my rewriting time. "Omit needless words", as Strunk and White says.

 

The last thing I did to wrap up the first draft was construct the bibliography. That took days, even though I kept a reasonable clipping file on my iPad with links to sources. I rattled off a lot of facts from memory as I wrote and had to track down dozens of sources.

 

I once handed a first draft of a novel of mine to a beta reader from CW. She said it was almost perfect, the best first draft she had ever read. I still spent months after that doing more editing.

 

This current book will require extra effort. My first nonfiction was the fruit of me researching a topic that interested me. It contained other peoples ideas curated by me, with a lot of style to hold it together. This book is filled with original research I have conducted over the last several years. That makes it hard.

 

I cite hundreds of historical events. I have to be concise to cover it all, but risk making all that history dull. All the people, wars, crises and victories captured my attention during the research phase. I read whole papers on some of these topics but need to summarize them in a paragraph or two. That will take forever. (I cover at least one historical event from each generation since the creation!)

 

So, did I start editing before I finished my first draft? The whole book is already well-structured, comprehensive, readable and intelligible (though I expect a beta reader to help me unearth confusing bits.) But the gap between where it is and being publishable remains sizeable.

 

 

 

Edited by paulchernoch
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