This morning I started in on my plan to fatten up the novel a bit. Here’s how I’m tackling it: I want to add 10,000 words, but I don’t want to just drop in previously deleted flashbacks or add scenes that aren’t needed. Instead I want to just give the prose some pacing, let them flow a little more. Since the manuscript is 210 pages, I’ve decided to edit in 10 page chunks. I’m taking 10 pages at a time, pasting them into a new doc, and adding descriptions here and there to make the pacing better. I’m working on it until I’ve added 500 words, and then I’m pasting those 10 pages back into the story, slightly fatter for the attention.
I was skeptical that this would work. I worried I was over thinking it – letting my science background influence me too much – but this morning it went really well. In fact, I found the experience very relaxing – taking those first 10 pages and looking at just them, alone, and pausing to think about where I could add without just making it longer. It felt like I was saying to myself “Okay, I don’t have to worry about getting it right. The story is here. Now where do I, as the reader, want more?”
I’ve been so focused on trimming and perfecting for so long, it was nice to just write. Of course, it took me an hour to add just 200 words, and I only edited the first five pages, so it may take a while. But I think I’m back on the right path again. 500 words is a long paragraph. I can totally add one paragraph’s worth of words to every ten pages. I think my novel will be much better for it, and I will feel more confident sending out a manuscript that is 75,000 words instead of 65,000.
Maybe on my next novel I’ll be bolder, more willing to say eff-off to the “rules,” but as a first-time novelist, I’m looking to follow convention. Learn the basics. Walk before I run and all such boring cliches.