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Picking on The Nobodies

Awhile back, I mentioned I was starting work on fully editing my second novel, The Nobodies. However, as I’ve rewritten and revised the book a number of times over the year, I was going to try a little something different, something perhaps a bit more helpful.

Well, days came and went, and I busied myself with a number of other projects, most importantly last week’s publication. But I didn’t give up on The Nobodies, as the neatly stacked pages collectively encompassing one of my couches will attest. In fact, shortly after that post, I reviewed several sections, attacking them with a red pen and spattering the text with notes, corrections, strikeouts and hand-drawn arrows.

The pen sat for awhile and I’ve actually moved onto black ink (it writes so much more smoothly), but last Saturday, somewhere between tearing up a carpet and pulling weeds, I managed to start back up, focusing my attention (so far, at least) on the book’s smaller characters and ensuring their voices remain constant.

This read-through has also allowed me to fine-tune the book, something I’ve known I would have to face but have been somewhat afraid to actually tackle. Now that I’ve been removed from the project for several weeks, the trepidation has all but vanished and I’ve begun expunging the more superfluous language with impunity.

As directors pull films from their footage, so now I’m drafting a book from the words.

That isn’t to say I’m unnecessarily removing content. Far from it, really. What I am doing is only tightening the plot and the overall story but cutting unimportant details. Here’s a good example from a chapter currently on-hand:

The original paragraph: He smiled and tugged at the zipper while she backed away to the sink, putting her coffee mug aside to scrub her hands and forearms thoroughly with liquid soap before running them under hot, nearly steaming water. Finishing at the sink with a wipe of her hands on a sanitary towel before tossing it into a receptacle, she walked calmly to the slab to look down at the body.

The first-edit version: He smiled and tugged at the zipper while she backed away to the sink, setting her coffee aside to scrub up. Finishing with a wipe of a sanitary towel, she calmly returned and carefully took in the body.

It sounds really rather dirty out of context, doesn’t it? Hadn’t noticed that until this very moment. I almost want to drop in the next sentence just to cut the potential vulgarity… but, no. Too many spoilers, there.

Spoilers!

Dr. Who reference aside, I hope the edits give you the gist of what I’m doing now, and for the next while. But keep in mind that the edits above are based solely on my scribbles and will likely change during the next few rounds of edits.

And like I’ve said before, nothing’s final until it’s published.

Or even after that if your name’s George Lucas.

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