So, I started out… the very first book-length story I wrote was a reasonably brutal thriller set in a small American town somewhere between two farms. I have a slightly unhealthy obsession with that book, and editing it into some kind of presentable shape. It’s the first one.
I didn’t have the foggiest idea what I was doing, when I wrote that book. There were seven or eight victims in the first draft, and all but one of them died on stage and in gruesome ways in the course of the book. I should have known better. I do read. But that wasn’t enough to stop me from writing these fairly graphic scenes. I may or may not be cut out to write mayhem and slaughter, so, of course, I was writing each of these scenes in multiple sittings. Which means that I got some very disjointed work, and also that I didn’t have a clear idea of how much text was going into each one.
There was a lot of gore, and a whole lot of pages of it. And some of it was pretty good. The rest of it was just… gory. And the original draft stretched a long, long way to fit in those scenes.
So, I didn’t just have a serial killer thriller. I had an epic serial killer thriller. And I found myself looking at some of those scenes–those wild, over the top scenes–and wondering what the he-ck I was thinking.
The biggest part of my first round of revisions (my poor, unguided first round of revisions) was getting rid of all those poor, unfortunate, soon-to-be-dead people.
I can’t really say I started the book too early, but I’m definitely comfortable saying that I massively overestimated the length of time from where the book started to where it ends.
I had to cut back on the murders. And the violence. Way back. In my current revision–like I said, unhealthy obsession. Must fix book–only one of the kidnapping victims is an actual, living character, and… This is a pretty big change… I think she stays that way. She never becomes the hero, but she has a fighting chance. Everyone else gets swept off stage and into the back story.
So, anything you’d like to share? Is there one particular thing you tend to overdo and then edit out of manuscripts? Any secrets I can peer-pressure you into giving up?