Bloat: unwarranted or excessive growth or enlargement; to make turgid or swollen
As I jump into draft #9 of my latest Corrosive Knights novel, I’m particularly interested in finding -and snipping away- anything within it which could fall under the above definition.
I’ve talked before about how difficult it is to write -and it is- but as one reaches the stage where I’m at, where your story is pretty much set and you’re moving away from creative writing and to revisions involving grammar and spelling, one should also try their best to see which sections of your book require pruning.
It’s not as easy as it sounds.
Let’s face it, authors fall in love with their works. Hell, they wouldn’t spend all that time on them if they didn’t love what they were doing, but the danger is that they get to the point where they may not realize parts of their beloved works, be they something as small as a sentence or two to as large as several chapters, would be better left out.
When I was writing my very first novel, Haze, I very much fell into that situation. Originally the book featured a very long opening section which served to acquaint the reader with the protagonist. It went on for way too long before we got to the “meat” of the story.
As I was very much a novice to the whole book writing business at the time, I simply was not aware of this bloated opening act. Luckily, I didn’t publish the work then and there and instead revised and re-revised the work over and over again and gradually developed an understanding of what worked and what didn’t.
I was also helped immensely by the fact that I put the novel away for a while -perhaps a little over a year or so- before getting at it again. It was at that point that I realized how much I could get rid of from that opening section without hurting the reader’s understanding of the protagonist and while getting that same reader that much quicker to the “good stuff”.
It was an important lesson for me and I’m fascinated to find book reviews where readers say something to the effect that a book needed “a good editor.” Usually the comment refers to a book being too long and featuring material that was unnecessary and should have been eliminated.
You know, bloat.
So, in the interests of brevity, here I go into my own novel.
Let’s see what I see…