03 February 2008

Steek, meet Novel

I just cut 130,000 words from Novel #1.

One hundred and thirty thousand words. That I wrote. Deemed useless and gone.

I'm starting over with the plot. Right from square one.

It's like taking a pair of scissors to a sweater you just finished knitting and methodically shredding it because you've realized it's not so much a sweater as it is a huge, misshapen, unraveling mess.

Now usually with a huge, misshapen mess of a sweater, you just rip out what you've knit and start over. Or stuff the misbegotten thing in a plastic bag, shove it into the back of a dark closet and try to forget it ever existed.

Sometimes, thought, you actually plan on taking scissors to a sweater. It's called steeking, an intentional scissors-to-sweater technique used in the construction of Norweigian and Fair Isle sweaters. The steek is a well planned thing - its edges are sutured off long before the scissors appear (well, usually). After the deed is done, new stitches are picked up along the rough edges and the sweater continues on from there. Sleeves might be added on or a placket with button holes might take shape. The end result, when steeking is carefully planned and you know what you're doing, are stunning.

So. I'm hoping that my application of scissors to Novel #1 will turn out to be more like steeking, and instead of the unraveling mess it currently is, Novel #1 will turn into something, if not stunning, then... better.

The story is now down below 80K, which if nothing else, is a much more managable size for me. I'll probably have to cut more before I'm done with my shears. In fact, I know I will. There's no other cure, I'm afraid. There are too many tangents, too many characters who hijacked center stage, and I'm not a good enough writer, yet, to sort them all out all at once. So it's back to square one and they'll be sorted out one at a time. The intent is to knit them all back together eventually, but for now I'm going to concentrate on picking up stitches along the rough edges I have left.

Here's hoping I know what I'm doing ...

2 comments:

Leslie said...

I'm currently planning to steek a failed pull-over into a wearable cardigan. It's on the projects list, anyway, if that can be called a plan.

And I moved to a new blog. http://miss-crabby-pants.blogspot.com/
There's nothing interesting there yet. Actually, there's nothing there yet at all, interesting or otherwise, but it's where you can look to find me.

I got tired of my dead blog. Speaking of which... Is your sister doing okay?

Bethanie said...

Good luck with the sweater (been there - be brave!) and thanks for the updated link (I'll get around to updating my link to you soon... really). I definitely like the theme of the new blog... er, thus far...

Sister is surviving the WTF-do-I DO after-quitting-the-heinous-other-job blues. Not sure when she'll be back, but someday soon, I hope.