i want to party, she said

So I promised myself I’d have my YA novel STRANGER finished by Memorial Day weekend, so I can go to Vegas with husband and friends and see DJ Armin Van Buuren at Ice and be naughty without guilt. (Not the moral kind of guilt. The goddamit-I’m-frittering-away-my-life-instead-of-working-on-my-freakin’-novel kind of guilt). My plan was: finish revising the 200 pages I have so far by tomorrow, and then write the remaining 40 or so pages next week, when I’m compelled by the logic and momentum of everything that’s come before and can write out the ending in an effortless white-hot blaze. That was the theory, anyway.

Instead I got stuck. Didn’t even touch the YA novel over the last week; spent my work time obsessing over my sales ranking on amazon.de and taking notes for the next novel and a possible novella set in Ibiza. I thought about STRANGER but the book, which had been flowing nicely for a while, felt blunted or flatlined or something. I went back and reread it and thought, yeah, there’s a pacing problem after the first 150 pages. The narrative just stops moving…or rather, it moves along according to the outline I had for it, but in a way that doesn’t accumulate urgency or new information. It hits the same note too many times. It is repetitive and boring.

And then I realized I could just cut that part out. There’s about 20 or 30 pages in there that I thought I need, but don’t; Kelly and Nick return from their strange encounter in a Tribeca bookstore and, guess what. Her brother is already gone. Her friend Morgan is already showing up at the house. That is the story, and the stuff that came between their return from the city and Morgan’s intrusion is not the story after all, and so drops through a trap door and disappears. The information I thought I needed those scenes to convey is easily worked in somewhere else.

I had a similar experience with BLOODANGEL — I realized a good chunk of the narrative wasn’t working and shouldn’t be there — and only when I cut those pages out and saw how the broken ends of the story fused together, did I feel like the story was moving again.

Getting work done by erasing earlier work. Sometimes revision is a beautiful thing.

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