I promised to share what I was doing, as I did it…and so, here you go! For my first revision, my goals are:
- Cut, cut, cut! Reduce length by 50%
- Remove unnecessary characters entirely
- Eliminate names of minor characters who do not play a significant role
- Dialogue can be deadly (Ann Hood lecture notes) and shorter sentences are better! Keep dialogue IF it does 2-4 of these things: foreshadowing, necessary info, move plot, push the conflict, add to character, reveal setting, add tension
And now…some thoughts:
(1) Not all, but many, authors prefer to let their creative side run wild with the first draft, going back to cut and reshape later. That’s what I did, and I also have massive amounts of backstory on most of my characters. Like an iceberg, the final novel will probably represent about 5% of my original material…
(2) Characters should Do something! If they don’t, then they don’t need to be there. Readers can only fall in love with, care about, worry about, and remember so many people…and if they think they’re supposed to care about Sarah, the ice cream girl, only to have her do nothing, get dropped on page 63 and then never reappear in the story…well, they typically don’t like that.
(3) Names tell a reader that they should pay attention to and remember a character. If a character has no name, the reader knows he/she will be mostly irrelevant or a very, very minor character…with a name, they perk up and pay attention.
(4) Dialogue. I know that a lot of people like to criticize Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight Series (either through true dislike or envy, I don’t know), but I can tell you, she makes every single word do quadruple duty when it comes to place setting, character development, and more! Every word has a reason to be there! In other words, make those words work if they want to stay on the page!