Painful shears of revision – an editing nightmare

13 Apr

My first novel has topped out at nearly 150,000 words! Yikes, an editor’s nightmare. Especially considering that my target audience is middle graders ages 12 – 15. Can they even sit still that long? So, my editor has very gently suggested that I reduce my manuscript by about 1/3. That’s like telling me I need to cut one of my childrens’ legs off! Still, if I thought it would save his life, I’d do it. Apparently, that’s the only thing that will save the life of my floundering manuscript.

I probably would have been saved much anguish if I’d stuck to the plot outline I’d initially created. Sometimes novels just take on lives of their own though. I probably would have been better off if I’d followed a diet with each of my children, also. Still, sometimes things happen that we don’t decide to control completely and it works out for the best. I’ve been inspired by my size 16 pants to take up aerobics. My manuscript will also benefit from being similarly tightened and toned. I can’t complain much about the work that I’ve done, even though much of it must now be considered “practice” novel writing.

So, taking a break from the months of writing, I revisited some of my favorite fantasy stories. They all worked within 200 pages, so I can make mine work as well. I sat down and wrote out a new outline, tightening up the action pieces, cutting out the frivolous descriptions and backstory and re-arranged everything so it had a good, cohesive flow. I’m pretty proud of my work…it’s going to be fantastic. A little discipline goes a long way. I’m not sure if the editor will approve of the changes I’ve made, but I know not to rewrite the story until I’ve run them past her. Still, even though it means a lot of rewriting and some pain, not unlike birthing a child, the reward will be tremendous. That and with the rest of my spare time, I’ve managed to run 8 miles, bike 17 and jump on a trampoline with my youngest boys for 4 hours this week. Still a size 16, but I didn’t have to hold my breath to button my trousers today!


Posted by on April 13, 2011 in Uncategorized


7 responses to “Painful shears of revision – an editing nightmare

  1. dawn

    April 13, 2011 at 4:33 am

    I am so very excited for you Mikko! I am sure the novel is very different than the original one you sent me, but am hoping you kept the main characters and adventures!! I am looking forward support you during this real life adventure you are taking. Let me know if you need any help:) By the way—awesome job with the running, biking, and most importantly, having fun with your family!

  2. Mikko Azul

    April 13, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    Thanks Dawn! It’s taken 40 years to figure out what I really wanted to do with my life. Although I still get to work a day job until the book is published and sales take off (applying for my substitute teacher’s certificate today!) it’s great to have so many options and, most of all, support and encouragement from great friends and family. Thanks for your comments…they really mean a lot to me! And THANK YOU for reading the blog! Mikko

  3. Heather

    April 13, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    Great job Mikko. You can do it. You are farther than I. I am still cutting and rewrting before I send to editor.
    It’s going to be great! I can’t wait to read it.

  4. Mikko Azul

    April 13, 2011 at 11:21 pm

    Thanks Heather, for commenting! It’s mostly just cutting out extraneous backstory and slow passages that don’t really move the story along quickly. It’s getting easier as I go along and see the benefits. I think I’ll post the first chapter once it’s ready…that’ll get some comments! Have a fantastic week!

  5. Deb

    April 14, 2011 at 9:33 am

    OR… what if you made it a series??? Like the Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew? Keep ’em coming back for more.

    Congrats.. anyway. Glad to have found you again.
    Hugs, Deb

  6. Mikko Azul

    April 14, 2011 at 11:03 pm

    Thanks Deb. Yes, I’ve outlined the first storyline as a trilogy, but have several other storylines to write within this new world. I’ve even considered mysteries like Nancy Drew! Don’t know yet if that will happen or not, but we’ll see…I’m young!

  7. Amy Jarecki

    April 28, 2011 at 2:12 am

    Hi Mikko – I agree with Deb – Now you have three books! I think I mentioned the MG series, Five Ancestors, by Jeff Stone. What a success that has been!


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