Daniel (Danny) Lance Wright, Author

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Editing My Baby

It’s interesting how the mind reacts when self-editing the newborn novel.
We stare lovingly with stars in our eyes and never see the obvious.
Before us is a helpless infant and we, as authors, have the power and the means to either relegate it to bastard stepchild status, even mutilate it, or give it sustenance and the right amount of care to help it reach its full potential as a story that propels readers to another place, another time and into another life twisting emotions to whatever end the author desires. It’s difficult in the beginning to see anything but the most beautiful baby in the world. In reality, it’s an embryo faintly resembling a novel.
As with any parent, it’s a difficult task to nurture without coddling or to discipline without harming.
This morning I sat at the keyboard going over a chapter in a novel now almost six years, by no means an infant, and still unpublished. It was one specific paragraph that spawned this line of thinking. In my opinion it was superbly written—just the right amount of narration to balance crisp dialogue without cumbersome adverbs or overuse of adjectives. It plucked a heart string the way I intended when first written in 2005.
The only problem with it, I came to realize, was that the entire paragraph, every well-placed word, was superfluous to the story. It didn’t need to be there. The story would not miss it at all. It felt as if someone had slapped me and that’s not just hyperbole; I felt a real sting. I loved that paragraph, usually reading it two or three times before moving on.
This is where the infant/parent comparison is most appropriate; when I decided that my only choice was removing it, I might as well have decided to amputate the pinky finger of an only child, a teenage child at that.
I now have a new opinion: When I’m finished with it, this eighty-four-thousand word six-year old novel may be ten to fifteen-thousand words shorter.
If, at some point in the future, the novel is blessed by some publisher, I’ll build a shadow box and next to the published novel will be placed a very well written paragraph. I’ll just let people ask me why.

Daniel (Danny) Lance Wright
Author of
"Paradise Flawed"/Dream Books LLC/2009
"Six Years' Worth"/Father's Press/2007
"The Last Radiant Heart"/Virtual Tales/Summer 2010
"Anne Bonny, Where Are You?"/Rogue Phoenix Press/Summer 2010

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