Title: Free Souls
Chapters in Play: Part 2, Chapters 11 & 12
Beginning Word Count: 91,185
Day’s Ending Word Count: 91,923
(This ending word count is misleading. It doesn’t factor in the verbiage I cut out. Nor does it reflect the fact that in Chapter 12, the one I’m currently rewriting, a lot of the old text yet remains underneath the new lines I’m substituting.)
On Saturday and into Sunday morning I finished up the revision of some chapters I posted in the WritingForums.org Workshop last April.
Goody for me, right? But this whole Part 2 is a problem child, as you shall see.
Part 1 takes place in the late summer and fall of 1981 and ends on the evening of November 8th. That’s when Sandy and Eric, my MCs, have a disagreement over her accepting a promotion in his architecture office. This took the story up to page 20 in the original novella, and comes to 18,700 words as revised. Part 3 resumes on the evening of the 8th and will, once written, cover the months between then and late September 1982.
Part 2 originally was going to be nothing big. Originally it wasn’t going to be “Part 2” at all! All I intended was three or four quick flashback chapters in which Sandy, that same evening of November 8th, mulls over her previous relationships to figure out why she, a normal, decent-looking young woman, would be willing to settle for the role of office wife (sans any sex or terms of endearment) to the man she loves, and why she’d be willing to hold herself back in her God-given vocation to maintain that as the status quo. That’s what the question developed into, in any event, and I felt I needed to answer it because as first written her behavior makes no sense.
But Part 2 got away from me. Crazed-horses-pulling-the stagecoach over the cliff away from me. It mortifies me to admit it, but this backstory/flashback/nested story deals with her life from 1970 to 1980 and currently weighs in at a whopping 66,641 words! It’s a triumph (coff!) of showing, not telling. Oh, I think I’ve got some affecting stuff in there. After reading it you’d definitely understand Sandy’s motivations. And a lot of it is stuff I think the reader should know about her, things it would be unnatural (IMHO) to cram into the 1981-82 “present day” narrative.
But. But! 66,641 words? Good grief, who’s going to remember what the rest of the book is about after that? In fact, that’s why I put in the “Part” designations. So if the novel ever appears in print (fat chance!), the reader can stick her finger in the book and skip directly to Part 3 and only read Part 2 if she feels she needs it. But I’ve just said the reader does need it!
I feel guilty about my nested story, but that doesn’t stop me from revising it. The parts I rewrote on Saturday will address a lot of the concerns my Workshop critiquers expressed. And hey, if even if the book never sees publication, I’ve gotten good practice at being a decent writer.
(Yeah, I know the most important thing about being a decent writer is maintaining pace and keeping your reader’s interest. Shut up. I’m off to post the revised chapters in the Workshop.)