The rewrite has begun

Yesterday I began the formal rewrite of my novel-in-progress, The Sleep of Reason. I’ve always been tinkering with it, but now I’m making a devoted effort at going from start to finish, knowing all I know of its development and resolution, as well as what I want the characters to do, to integrate all of it.

Beginning with Chapter One (where else?) I read through it with a severe eye, pruning the dead wood and making my points clear or obscure as they required. After a heartless session of editing and revising, I managed to remove 120 words. That seems like a joke when you consider that the final word count for the opening chapter is 8,768. I’d actually cut out a lot more, maybe twice that amount, but I also supplemented in areas that I felt were weak or needed more development. The net loss was 120 words, but the chapter is stronger regardless of being hardly any shorter. At least I think so. I didn’t expect to make much change in this chapter since I’ve had it around so long. The bulk of it is the original short story that this book took its genesis from. I think I’ve had that in hand for a decade. So there have been plenty of prunings and revisions to it.

Perhaps I could chop this chapter in half somehow if I decide it’s too long, but I don’t see the need for it. I’ve pretty much decided to keep the opening the way it is, which begins with the two characters meeting in college. I might be able to trim a little more from that, both to make the chapter a little shorter and to get into the meat of the story more quickly. I’ll see what I can do about that. Maybe.

I mentioned in an earlier post that many of my characters, including my protagonist, will get new names. I had originally named my protagonist Charles Frere, which is an old family name, but it turned out that there was a painter named Charles Frere. The story involves Western art, and I feared that by using the name of a specific painter, I would be steering the reader in the wrong direction. That painter has nothing to do with the plot or theme. So I changed his name to Charles Frey Frye*. It works for me, and it was simple to do using Word’s find and replace function.

Less well done was the renaming of another character. I had an important supporting character named Eve that I now want to call Irene (with good reason). Unfortunately, I was not as careful with the find and replace function. I did not specify that it needed to be case sensitive, so every time the three letters “eve” appeared in the chapter, they were replaced with the letters “Irene.” Thus “every” became “Irenery.” There are “seven” men who partake of the ritual in this chapter. “Clever” is used a few times. “Even,” “ever,” revealed.” And so on. I spent a good amount of time prowling those 8,769 words for the abominations that resulted from my sloppy renaming. I’ll do better next chapter.

*For some reason I like Frye rather than Frey.

Explore posts in the same categories: Humble efforts, Sleep of Reason

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