Aug 152012

Down six pounds so far.

Ate pizza for lunch at work today, and felt over-full after one slice, and stuffed after two. I used to comfortably eat three to four slices without a problem.

As (should be) usual, I spent the train ride this morning working on the book. However, I made no forward progress in word count. That’s not to say I didn’t make major progress, though. Let me ‘splain.

Right now, I have the book broken into three separate documents. One is the manuscript proper, and it’s from there that I’m taking my word counts that I’m posting on the novel progress page. Another is my “story treatment,” which I wrote to kick off this draft of the story and sort out the plot holes and pacing issues in the second draft.1 The third one is where I’ve been working for the last couple of days: the editing room.

The editing room, or the cut doc, contains everything I sliced out of draft two that didn’t (yet) get re-integrated or re-written for draft three. The bulk of it comprises the middle and end thirds of the book. As I progress through this draft, I’m pulling things out of the cut doc and putting them back into the manuscript, modifying or re-writing as-needed. Anything that doesn’t fit–be it through changed plot, story flow, tone, or pacing–gets highlighted in red with a note about why it was cut. Anything that does fit, but hasn’t been reincorporated yet gets highlighted in blue with a note about where it should go, or why it’s important or worth keeping.

It wasn’t until Monday that I decided to take a proactive approach to the cut doc, rather than the reactive one I was taking. Before, I was going through the story, picking pieces out of it chronologically, and putting them in the new draft. But because of the major retooling in the second half of the book, chronology has gone right out the window and certain major events that happened in draft two never occur in draft three. That means a lot of stuff goes away, and a lot of other stuff that’s still good and worth using needs to be retooled so that it can come back.

All this is a long-winded way of saying that I’ve been applying pretty colors to a document instead of making forward word-count progress. But it’s all for a purpose: organizing the content I mean to preserve, and identifying the content I need to generate anew. I’ve still got a fair amount of material to go through, but once I’ve finished, I should be able to make very rapid forward progress on completing this last major draft of the book. From there, it’ll need a verbiage pass and cover art, and then it’s live.

  1. Based on how incredibly useful this has been, and how many authors swear by them, I plan to outline far more on the future than I did with this one, which was not at all. []

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