challenge overcome! (well, very nearly, anyway) and a call for readers?

8:25 pm, Friday night – new Uncle Deppo length: 4049 words!

pretty darn close, if i do say so myself, and i think it would be within a reasonable margin to be accepted for submission for a 4000-word cut-off.

i’ll admit to being disappointed that i didn’t quite make the official cut i was hoping for, but there may well be a few more words i can get rid of with another pass.

however, that brings me to my concern with this process: is the story still good?* with all the cutting and condensing i did, did i lose, confuse or impair the story somehow? i obviously can’t see the forest for the trees at this point, so i’ll have to wait and hear from some beta readers, some of who have seen the original, and some who haven’t.** we’ll see what the results are there before i try and strip anything else away.

only a few weeks are left before the deadline, though, so i need to get a couple other contenders, probably chapters from NGD/HHNF. if you’ve read either one, would you have any suggestions? if you haven’t read them and would like to, footnote #2 applies here as well.

i also mentioned in the last post that this would be a test of how much fluff i write – even after all my revisions – and my wife and i were discussing this earlier.

so didn’t you just get rid of a thousand words of extra stuff, wasted ink?

i’m biased, obviously, but i don’t think so. yes, there was some of that, but i would say that the majority of what i removed was in the name of condensing the language. rephrasing three words to one, choosing one adjective instead of two, taking out a phrase of description, implying subjects, et cetera – these were the bulk of the work.

so weren’t all those words unnecessary?

many, yes. most, no. the difference is in my position on ‘unnecessary’ and the negative connotations therein. i enjoy reading as an experience. there are times when i want to fill everything in on my own, and there are times when i want an author to paint me a picture. as an author, i like to do both, as well. Uncle Deppo was about 50/50 in this way. as a result, i found myself making most removals based on pushing the ratio to 90/10 (let the readers fill in / paint it for them). i love the small nuances of language, the difference between ‘take’, ‘grab’, and ‘relieve’, the way a particular phrase sounds, the distinction between one voice and the next.*** but back to the point, i consider all these things important, but not necessarily critical. are they therefore ‘unnecessary’? i won’t go that far.

now you’re just rationalizing.

maybe. well, yes, i suppose i am. i think the original works very well as it is, and most of the content i removed for this challenge is solid, effective, interesting and engaging material. however, i also was able to put an even sharper focus on my revision process with this challenge and be ruthless about non-critical material. i wasn’t 100% successful – i can already think of two places where i let the description win which could be further pared down – but it forced me out of a misconception i think had unwittingly slipped into: namely, that i was at the peak of my revision game already. ah, hubris.

and now, sleep.

* this assumes it was good to begin with, of course, but you’ll just have to take my word for that one, right now.

** by the way, if you’re interested in having a read, just drop me a line and i’ll shoot a copy out to you. always glad to hear folks’ comments.

*** and, clearly, hearing myself talk.

  1. footnote 4 to be inserted after “and now, sleep” Because you can’t fool me, I am in the next room after all.

    ****only after spending another hour or so writing an extensive email explaining some of the editing suggestions on a first draft of my cousin’s grad school paper.

  2. yes, well . . . okay, fair point. and another example of my excessive wordiness. not unlike the above post where i explain at length how i shortened a story. good grief. it’s an illness, i know. sorry, dear.

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