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Editing Stuff

I ate pi

Trying to fix things, creative things, is not for the faint of heart. Currently I am editing a work for a friend. They get a lower rate than the rest, but most of the attention. Go figure.

This thing is a jigsaw puzzle of horse poop made of hardened pig shit. I could put it together, but why? The writing is alright, not stellar, but it has one glaring, evil, and hackish problem. Chapters and scenes. I was sent a first draft. Never send an editor the first chunk out of your butt. Work it over, polish that turd at least once.

I could give some sort of advice on piecing stories and puzzles together, but why? If you are going to do it put a little effort into it. By a little I of course mean “not a first draft”. They confessed, about an hour ago, and told me to stop. They would break out a cloth and rub away until it no longer resembled complete crap. What was the problem? It had scenes? That’s a story, right? Nope.

Go visit Randy Ingermanson for the chapter/scene math.

50-200 scenes per novel. That is a heap of disparity. It is accurate. “Old Man and the Sea” was on the low end. Most of Tolstoy went above and beyond. You? Me? Let’s agree that 100 is a decent story of novel length. Just enough to get the plot across, and it is what your editor will whittle it down to anyway. Should you stop at 100? Not by a long shot. Here is why:
1. You need material. Good and bad. In your first draft you will probably need at least 150 scenes. This is to determine the “flow” of the story. It is a first draft after all.
2. The first edit is your job. Read the thing aloud and make some marks. Hand it over to somebody else who might not be so picky and have them do the same (I use my wife, she’s nice about it). That’s your first edit. Whatever they saw that needs to be cut, and what you wanted to cut, CUT! Now read it again. Does it still flow? What do you need to add? Polish that turd.
3. Give it to an editor. You might have a friend who does that, like me. You might use a service, like me. You might have access to some artificial intelligence program that Simon and Schuster is using. Use them. More than once if you must. If you decided to take off the dunce cap and put some work into it during step two you will only need to do this once. If you are my friend, paying me significantly less than the going rate, you will do it three or more times, because I’m a sucker. I’ll write the book for you, because I know what you are trying to say, and we are friends until the end. Go forth and profit.

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