Decisions, decisions. About five months ago, I had some feedback on my YA fantasy novel advising me to delete a couple subplots because they weren’t going to be resolved in Book 1 (it’s part of a series). I resisted the notion because I thought those scenes were really organic to the story, regardless of whether or not they bore fruit in the same book. But I know I sometimes resist good advice, and I was also looking at a manuscript that tipped the scales at about 165K. So I started looking for things to cut and couldn’t help but notice those subplots were eight thousand words I could cut in one fell swoop–so I cut it and polished the rest at a more svelte 122K.
But I felt something important was missing in the middle, but couldn’t put my finger on it until last night, when I thought about resuming work on Book 2 and realized I was dead in the water even worse than I’d thought I’d be when I cut those scenes. It pushed my inciting incident back too far, so I had second thoughts about those 8K words.
The first thing I saw was that they no longer fit where they used to be–I filled in the holes they had left very well–but if I changed the order of introducing the two subplots, they both reinforced adjacent plot points and put back that missing something. So the book sits at 130K, but I finally feel happy with the final manuscript. (Though the typo hunt is still on.)
So today, when I put Book 1 aside (waiting on the last couple pre-readers’ feedback) and started work sketching out the scenes for Book 2 (I’d already written a significant portion of it about a year ago) everything just fell into place beautifully–which it could never have done without that 8K back in Book 1 rather than in Book 2.
So today was really exciting–a complex story like this one can be a bear to wrestle into submission-worthiness. I’ve spent the last two and a half years grappling with Book 1, and it’s a nine book series–I really don’t want to spend the next ten years on just this one series. I’ve got a huge backlog of novels I really want to get through, and at one book a year, I’d be 110 before I got them all finished–assuming that I didn’t have more pop up.
Now, if I can finish two per year, I’ll only be 82.
Yeah, maybe two a year is just a fantasy in itself, but my feeling is that I’ve gotten through the worst of the learning curve, at least for this series. I know I’ll always be learning something new, but now that I know what “done” feels like, I think I can get there faster.
So, what’s my point? That sometimes generally good advice can be all wrong for a given situation. Before this, I’ve been fussing at the manuscript, nibbling away with little edits, changing a word here and a sentence there, never really happy with it; now I’m suddenly at peace with the manuscript. It’s a good feeling, and it never would have happened if I didn’t ultimately trust my gut feeling about what was right for this story.