August 8, 2010 – Slow Going

Ugh.  Editing my book is taking a lot longer than I expected.  I thought I’d just read through the proof copy, make my typo corrections and call it done, but I find myself re-reading the entire thing and tweaking—adding a few sentences here, taking a few out there.  One thing I’ve done, based on recommendations I’ve read from agents and editors, is I’ve taken out long blocks of description of my characters.  I have always loved dialog better than anything, so I can go on for pages without ever describing the scenery around my characters.  So, after writing scenes of almost nothing but dialog, I went back in (in one of my earlier editing sessions) and made a concerted effort to describe my characters and the setting around them a little better.

But I have since read, in multiple places, that nothing makes a book boring like long descriptions in the beginning of a book.  Everyone was all about keeping descriptions of the characters to a minimum in the first five pages (or first chapter), and then it’s better to throw out a detail here and there, rather than describe all of them at once.  So that’s what I’ve been doing.  Cutting out the descriptive paragraphs is easy, but adding the details back in here and there is what’s taking a long time.  I hope that the process will speed up once I get past the first two or three chapters, but who knows?  I may have a lot of this in store for me.

Yesterday it took me all day to edit one chapter, and even now I’m rereading it and tweaking it, because I put so much new stuff in that I want to make sure I give it an additional read-over.  Although, in fairness to me, one of the things I changed was I made the first chapter into two chapters—so, once you take that into account, I did two chapters yesterday.  One of the critiques my husband had was that there weren’t enough chapters—although he did admit he is used to reading people like Robert B. Parker, who might have a chapter consist of a page or two.  I don’t want chapters that short, by any means, but relative to my other chapters, chapter one was quite long, so I think breaking it up was definitely justified.  I have 33 chapters at the moment, and that seems a good amount to me—not too many, but not to few either.

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3 comments on “August 8, 2010 – Slow Going

  1. I feel you on the descriptions! People and places. Everyone who writes about writing seems to have advice about how to do it and how much– but finding the right fit for the piece? yikes.
    At least you know what your dudes look like. I’ve got a female lead who keeps showing up with different hair and eye colours. And heights. And weights. not on purpose, haha. gotta follow your example and get my story straight on this particular issue 🙂
    take care
    -Jen

    • Keri Peardon says:

      I do the same flip-flopping thing, but not with characters–I do it with places, especially houses. I have to sit down and draw a floor plan of a house where my characters live so that I can keep straight where the rooms are, the stairs, the doors, etc., or it’d end up sounding like Escher’s house, LOL.

      I do have a hard time imagining faces. I can get all of the other descriptions down, but faces aren’t something I readily imagine. Probably because I’ve always been a bit shy and I don’t look at people directly very much. I listen to them, notice what they’re wearing, what they’re doing, but I don’t look directly into the face very often. I had a LOT of work done on my books (in the plural) before I started looking through pictures to find faces that resemble what I could finally see in my mind.

      Something I do, which may help you, is I run the scene, the dialog, etc. through my mind like I’m watching a movie. It makes it easier to set things if you have to SEE them, as opposed to just say them. The other alternative is to pick someone–someone you know, or some random person’s picture off Flickr–and just say “this is what my character looks like” and describe from there. My characters tend to live in houses that, oddly enough, look like the houses my family and friends live in, LOL. Sometimes it’s better to describe what you know than start from scratch.

  2. Faces are the worst! I realised how terrible I am at face recognition when I had to describe a bank robbery suspect to police a few years ago- I remembered him differently (incorrectly!) than everyone else I talked to.
    The brain-movie is definitely the way to go. I never even thought about whether or not I’m being consistent with my buildings and settings… I think I am. Better check up on that, too, haha. I guess I have to actually make some decisions and cast my leading lady…
    The little things that trip you up that you don’t even think of when you get started on a draft…

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