Gifts from the Dead

Not  completely finished, but I’m almost certainly keeping the new chapter.  I’ll have to cut more somewhere else.

I probably shouldn’t have written a chapter named “Gifts from the Dead” right before bedtime at midnight.  Writing is so much fun.

Decisions, decisions

I’ve cut around 3000 words out, but have run into a plot snag.  I can wave my magic writer’s wand or write a new chapter that will significantly eat into the words I’ve cut.  I’m going to write the chapter just to see how it comes out.  And I may have to look for additional material to cut. Decisions, decisions…

Here’s the chart to go with the previous post

Chap Original Count Final Count Cut % Less
Total Count Total Cut Total % less
2 2057 1795 262 12.74% 2057 262 12.74%
3 1823 1691 132 7.24% 3880 394 10.15%
4 2235 2098 137 6.13% 6115 531 8.68%
5 2469 2177 292 11.83% 8584 823 9.59%
6 4148 4221 -73 -1.76% 12732 750 5.89%
7 2323 2268 55 2.37% 15055 805 5.35%
8 3089 3372 -283 -9.16% 18144 522 2.88%
9 1951 1812 139 7.12% 20095 661 3.29%
10 3987 3618 369 9.26% 24082 1030 4.28%
11 2717 2529 188 6.92% 26799 1218 4.54%
12 1932 1899 33 1.71% 28731 1251 4.35%
13 3676 3541 135 3.67% 32407 1386 4.28%
14 3792 3517 275 7.25% 36199 1661 4.59%
15 3915 3483 432 11.03% 40114 2093 5.22%
16 3582 3049 533 14.88% 43696 2626 6.01%

Editing and chapter word counts

I have a chart I’ve been updating over the last few months.  I technically “finished” The Book of Dreams back in late March.  But finished is a relative term especially with a creative project.  In this case, finished meant I had written every chapter, re-written the end of the first book (or actually wrote the end for the first time) and that I had something resembling a complete story.

That’s not being generous enough, actually, the end product by the end of March was very solid.  But it still needed an editing phase.  I set a goal to delete 10% of the total word count (~90,000 words).  I kept chapter word counts of my edits and I’ll post that in a follow-up post.  While I’m not on track to hit my goal, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  Chapter 2 needed lots of edits because I wrote it a long time ago when I wasn’t as polished a writer.  Chapter 7 had very few edits because I wrote that last year (as part of a new plot device).  Chapter 6 & 8 actually came in higher after the edits, again because of the need to add story for some changes in the plot from when I wrote them years ago.

I’m currently at 6% (2600 words cut out of 44000).  Still gunning for 10% but I’m happy with what I have so far.  I’ll keep posting updates to the editing process as it goes along.

Letting the story out

Read this article in Medium today, with the title “Your stories are safe”.  But it’s really more about the need to share our stories. It occurred to me that writing fantasy, and fiction in general, is a way of sharing a story that’s too personal to tell in it’s truest form.  Fiction is a vehicle for piecing together lived events and presenting them to others in a way that’s easier to accept.

This isn’t real, it’s just a story.  Pretty clever, in my opinion.

I abhor you! (or “Let me tell you a funny story…”)

There’s a review on Amazon for the picture book that points out the vocabulary in the book and rates it as a two because the language is too difficult for the age range.  I thought I would take a moment to tell an amusing story that addresses that.

Before the art was done I took opportunities to read the poem to my friend’s children.  One friend was a nanny of two boys, four and seven.  They had a friend over, a little girl who was also four.  I read them the poem and it was not smooth sailing. The problem was actually worse than the reviewer made it out to be.  The little girl didn’t know what a jury was.  I had to stop every few stanzas to explain words or phrases. But something interesting happened. She stopped me to ask what ‘abhor’ meant, and I explained it.  We finished the poem.  Then her and the two boys went back to running around the back yard.  A few minutes later I heard her run up to one of the boys and yell “I abhor you!”. Then she would run away and do the same thing to the other boy.  She ran around the back yard for five minutes yelling “I abhor you!” over and over.

It was very cute and funny, although maybe not the best word for her to have learned that day, The point is that kids are sponges and can pick things up very fast. The only reason words like abhor and duress are ‘difficult’ is because they aren’t used in day to day conversation.  But it took this little girl around a minute of my time to get a general idea of what a courtroom, jury and judge are as well as learning the meaning to duress and abhor.

I could have removed those words. I did remove some other ones, so the vocabulary wouldn’t interfere too much. But I didn’t remove them all on purpose, because I actually trust that kids are curious and up to the task of learning if given the chance. I know that approach won’t work for everyone and I’m fine with that. But I hope that most people don’t dismiss the story because of fear their children won’t understand it. It does take an extra minute, but I think that time is worth it.