Monday, January 17, 2005

Once more for the camera

I've finished the second novel of this trilogy. Actually, I finished it two days ago, but I didn't get around to bragging--I mean blogging--about it until now. It weighed in at a healthy 161,326 words. Now I have to go back through and start cutting, tightening, and polishing to get it down to something slightly less than 150,000 words. I've already chosen some parts to cut, which will hopefully increase the speed of events at the beginning. Then it's just a matter of taking out anything that isn't absolutely necessary to the story, and deciding which things will take place "on camera" and which will be "offscreen."

I just gave in to a guilty pleasure and watched all the extended or added scenes in the third movie of Lord of the Rings on DVD. Some of the things in the filmmaker's documentary sections sounded almost exactly like what I do when I revise a book. They talked about the editing process and how they figure out what it takes to make a good on-the-edge-of-your-seat movie. With the necessary nods to worldbuilding and scene-setting and all that, I think that a good book should be constructed much the same way as a film. Each scene should have a purpose and a vital reason for being there; otherwise, cut it. Same with anything you produce for entertainment value. If it puts your viewer or reader to sleep, cut it. Ask your test readers to be honest about which of your scenes made them want to skim past and which they just couldn't put down. Then tailor your book so that it plays like a movie in the reader's head. Show the story in full living color, with strong sequences that pack a real punch.

Excuse me. I've got to go do some hacking, slashing, burning. Well, maybe not burning. Catch you later.

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