The Next Step

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Monday was an eventful day. I have been working on the sixth draft on my novel Evil Lives After before sending it out to several agents. This draft was specifically for the purpose of tightening the writing. After an extremely close read from a very good editor, I was confronted with quite a few examples of repetition that could be cut as well as having to answer difficult questions about the purpose of several chapters. After careful consideration, I decided to cut two chapters. It was difficult, because I liked the minor characters I had created, but they did not move the narrative forward. So, obeying the instructions of “kill your darlings,” which I have seen attributed to various writers, from Fitzgerald to Faulkner to King, I cut those chapters. When I was done with this draft, I had sliced 29 pages, bringing the book to 402 pages.

After attending the Writer’s Digest Conference, I had five agents who had requested part, or all, of the novel to be submitted to them. I spent the next several hours sending the novel—in various page amounts—, the query, and the summary to them. Now I simply have to wait for their reactions and put the novel aside for the next, and ongoing, writing projects.

I was not finished, however, with writing submissions for this day.

Writer’s Digest is also running a short story contest, which I decided to enter. I had not tried to write a short story in many years before recently creating one. I am still very uncertain about the story since it is such a short space to create a character and a point to the narrative, and with the drafting of the novel, I had become used to a much larger canvas with which to work. I did, however, draft and redraft the piece several times.

The contest has a word limit of 4000, and the next to the last draft was 5500 words, so I had a very large task of cutting and editing in front of me. This work was difficult, and, once again, I had to kill my darlings. After much effort, I had cut it down to just under 4000 words. Without question, it is a much tighter piece, and, I hope, a better story. And, I submitted it to the competition. Now, it is out of my control what happens.

It was an exhausting and exhilarating day.

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