So, the year is 2007. I’m working on the railroad (yes, true story). I make new friends. I hit it off with one of them so much that we get the idea to write a book together. WE ACTUALLY WRITE THE BOOK. Even better, we edit the book, and get to a stage where we begin sending it out to agents to try and find representation. This doesn’t pan out, but that’s fine because life gets in the way.
I move to Dubai.
I continue on my self-publishing journey.
Some years pass.
Then a pandemic hits.
I’m in need of a project. I write to my co-author, who, for professional reasons would prefer not to be involved with an edit of the book, or any future versions of the book. I respect her decision, and am happy to start a new project, and begin editing. My goal for the draft is to renew my relationship with the book, and if possible — cut a considerable percentage of words. Going in, the first draft of Take One! at Mulholland High was a longish 82K (which is too much for YA, which, per the genre, should end up ideally between 55-75K). I’m currently close to finishing up, and am down to about 71K. Before I went back to add in a few scenes, I was down to 70,200 words. Even though I’ve been tweaking scenes along the way, to fully modernize things (guys, life changes a lot in 13 years), I may need to add back in some missing parts, which gave me my final second draft at 70,773 (200 pages).
Let’s take into consideration that Take One! at Mulholland High was written when The Hills and the OC were at their prime. Also, more than anything, I’m delighted that my writing and approach to editing have so much grown since then.
So, some of my observations?
- The brand references are out of control. Among other things, I had someone wearing Ed Hardy. On purpose. Seriously.
- One of the protagonists uses a Sidekick. She talks about it too much.
- Feminist Courtney was not fully developed, and it shows. The biggest overhaul in the characters comes from removing snarky asides aimed at other female characters.
- There’s just a lot…extra. Too much internal dialogue and overwritten descriptions.
- A main character drives a car which is no longer in production. (Now she drives a hybrid).
- I really liked to use italics for emphasis in dialogue.
- Too much Instant Messenger chat, not enough texting.
- I’m also worried about including not enough of modern technology in the current draft. There’s a chance to write in a considerable more amount of social media activity, but I’m concerned it won’t be evergreen, and thus will become dated in five years or less.
- One of the romances feels problematic, and I’m still working through how I address the development of the relationship.
- Holy shit, do I like to use the word ‘completely.’
- Similarly, the phrase ‘I mean’ shows up way too often.
- But it’s not all bad! There were some scenes I completely forgot about that I genuinely love. The characters are really their own people, which makes things easier to get back into.
- There is so much potential for a sequel. I know my writing partner and I were considering one, but there is plenty of material to keeping going.
Have you ever looked back at an old project?
While my editor gets into Mulholland this month, it might be time to dig out my Fates project, which (similarly) hasn’t been opened in close to ten years. I’m not sure why I don’t feel like writing new fiction at the moment, but I’m glad I have these manuscripts to return to.