Monday, February 20, 2012
How Much is Too Much?
I hit the realization that I hated this (or at least the first chapter of this, after which I was unable to read forward) yesterday morning - after I finished typing in the last of the edits for chapter one and read through what I'd done. This thing I've created... that I once loved with wild abandon... has become something I don't even recognize. It's choppy and inconsistent. My heroine is a blathering moron who throws out quips like like week's leftovers. The villain is boring and not only is his motivation unclear, but his actions make Snidley Whiplash look like a criminal genius. The crux of the plot is so convoluted I get nauseous just trying to follow it. And that's just the first chapter. :headdesk:
After much gnashing of teeth and tearing of hair, I did what I swore I wouldn't do*. I sent the chapter off to Daughter at college. She received it and did something she never does - she was silent all day. At least all day until I cornered her last night on FB chat and made her tell me what she thought. Her answer, after several seconds of stalling: "I liked in general but..."
It took a while to get specifics out of her, but she gave me some choice things to think about. And I did. I dwelled on it, in fact. Hell, I went to bed thinking about it. Know what I came up with?
I over-edited this thing. What started out as something I loved like cheesecake turned into something I wouldn't serve to my worst enemy. (Okay, maybe my WORST enemy, but certainly not to anyone I didn't hate.) I fiddled with it too much, added too many unnecessary ingredients, over stirred and took out some key spices - all of which left this whole thing chewy and flat and gross. Basically I took a great thing and turned it into garbage. Go me.
Unlike the unfortunate cheesecake, though, this thing can be fixed. I just need to start over, using some of what I already wrote along with some newer better stuff.
The question of the day is, though, How much is too much? How do you know when you're still editing to make it better or editing the hell out of something until it's so much worse you want to punch yourself in the face?
*I swore I wouldn't send Daughter pages because she's like in college and junk, and needs to be focusing on her work - not mine.
** Above image shamelessly stolen from Anton Strout's Facebook page. It was too poignant not to add it to this blog.