I made a revelation the other day.
Last year, I decided to participate in NaNoWriMo. I spent the month before researching and preparing. I wrote character bios and scenery plans and storyarch ideas. November started, and I wrote.
It is very hard to write 50k words in a month. I actually managed to write enough for the first 16 days. But then I stopped in my tracks because… well, pregnancy caught up to me. Then thanksgiving came (note it was much earlier last year, on the 22nd) and by the time that settled down the month was over. I thought maybe I could finish the novel in the coming months but it unfortunately didn’t happen.
In the year since, I’ve read through my 26k words a few times and I liked what I’d written. So come on already! Let’s get back to it! Fast forward to last week. I read it one more time just to refresh the nuances and found myself skimming paragraphs out of boredom. Yeah, that’s a problem.
I think I know what I did wrong. I keep on believing that I need to set up normalcy, let the seeds of plot sit and take root and slowly grow before blossoming and having the “real plot,” as I’ve been calling it, take over. This works for some novels, especially in years gone by, but I don’t think it works as well in today’s market. I can’t have the beginning of the excitement not even be hinted at by 92 pages in.
My plan right now is to tighten up the plot, have events happen sooner to keep readers’ interest. It may be a lot of rewriting, but at least I’ve made this revelation now instead of after the first draft is complete. The changes will be much easier to retrofit and implement, and I think the story will greatly benefit from it.
So my word of warning: I know we’re all our own worst critics, but if you read through your own work, when do you get bored? What do you skim? If you’re skimming it, why is it there? They say one of the biggest mistakes newer writers make is writing novels that are too long. Why are they so long winded? Because they don’t know what’s necessary to the story, to the readers, and what isn’t.
We can all learn how to make our writing tighter. In the writing world, tighter is definitely stronger. Make every word count.