The difference in that little equation is the number of pages I’ve got left in the first part of my WIP after readers told me I needed to pick up the pace and cut out most of the backstory at the beginning of my book. The criticism didn’t surprise me, but I struggled to make the changes, especially because I am in love with my original first sentence. After sulking for a while though, I decided not to marry it. To do what needed doing, that splendid—I dreamed it up one night— group of words had to be relegated to the beginning of the second chapter, where they currently reside. That line was a great hook, but it wouldn’t do me a bit of good if the following pages were a bunch of bla, bla, bla. And here’s a bit of news. It appears I’m pretty skilled at bla, bla, bla.
One of my readers said something like: “Sometimes I think we write the backstory because as the writer we need to know it. We’re telling ourselves the story.” And I agree. After writing and editing a first draft, I do know the details of the daily existence of these imaginary folks I’ve developed. But a reader doesn’t need all that excess, and to tell you the truth, even my eyes glazed over as I read the blow-by-blow. So, I’m chalking up those fifteen pages, plus the many more that will be chopped, as a worthwhile exercise in character development. Now it’s time to move on to the next lesson.
Repeat after me: Every chapter MUST have action.
Picture me with scissors protruding from my eyes. For the next several days, I’ll be wearing my ruthless cap and cutting out the CR_ P.
For those of you celebrating holidays this weekend, enjoy.