So it’s two months later and I STILL haven’t finished the partial for my SuperRomance Memorial Day story.
I’m up to chapter seven, but I keep going back to work on the partial, which now must be the longest partial in the history of Romance!
I felt it needed an extra scene showing Kate finding out that everyone knows about the engagement story, so I added that. To make things more complicated and slow the pacing down, it’s a flashback because I had timing problems!
Then a critiquer mentioned that it would be good to actually show the moment Kate first tells the lie, makes up the story that she’s engaged to Jack. So I added that, a new scene of nearly three thousand words to start the stroy, slotting in before the one I entered for the Challenge.
Now I had a bloated nightmare of a first chapter that was eight thousand words long! Infodump central told in dialogue.
Time for some serious editing. I chopped over a thousand words from that opening sequence alone. Almost everything that was backstory, cut. From beinga slow plodding read that answered too many questions too soon, I have what hopefully reads a lot faster, and raises the reader’s interest instead of killing it.
Now I need to go back over the whole partial, and cut as much as I can.
I have a new scene to add, too, a dramatic event that gives more motivation for why the hero agrees to the fake engagement. I need to make room for that, by cutting out some of the dreck, the obvious backstory, the infodumps, the repetitions. I think I can skim another three or four thousand words off, and the story will be better for it – stronger, faster, punchier.
I just read these exercises in Noah Lukeman’s The First Five Pages, about what he calls “informative dialogue”
Take a section of dialogue and rewrite it, this time assuming the reader already knows everything he needs to know about the story. What would the characters say to each other?
Take the same section of problematic dialogue, and this time assume the characters already know everything they need to know about each other and everything they need to know about what’s happened, what’s happening, and what will happen. What would their new dialogue be like?
Now, I don’t think I can go as far as the last one, as the characters haven’t seen each other for over three months, and a lot has happened in that time, but it would be interesting to see how the partial would read if I tried it! They have whole scenes that are nothing but dialogue that seems to go on and on.
Taking out the thousand words of backstory dumped in dialogue didn’t make the opening scene much less understandable for the reader I tested it out on. She had a couple of queries that can be fixed by one or two added sentences.
I’m hoping I can do the same thing with the other scenes. Wish me luck as I venture into the infodump jungle, machete in hand!