Dehydrating My Novel

I love condensed milk. When I cook with it, I can't help but lick the sticky sweet cream from the insides of the can. I like concentrated things...well, I DON'T like evaporated or powdered milk...but besides them, I love dehydrated stuff.

We always buy our orange juice in the frozen concentrated form. The slushy, icy crystals look like sorbe and are so tempting to eat with a spoon. The orangey flavor is stronger and tangier before you add water.

I like soups and stews that have been simmering on the back of our woodstove all day. A good chili is one that has been bubbling for hours.

Fruit roll-ups are fun and tasty. We've made our own by drying a thin layer of apple butter. Dried fruit is sweeter and stronger in flavor. Of course, there are raisins, prunes, and dates, but apricots and pineapples and cranberries are really special.

My writing progress has seemed to come to a stand still, but it hasn't...not really. It's just going through a dehydrating process. I recently realized that "A Home for Phoebe" was much too long for a middle grade novel. It is 90,000 words long and should be no longer than 60,000 words. I need to find a way to condense it by a third of its length.

Do I just pull out ten chapters? No, for that would leave the plot with gaping holes. I need to go through it page by page and take out the "water," the things that are not necessary, the things that "thin out" the main theme or plot. Hopefully, when I'm done, my novel with be filled with more "flavor."

Here's an example of the process:

(70 words)

Sometimes on sunny days, they('d) wandered through the meadows to gather wild strawberries. Phoebe’s basket never got very full. She’d put (in) one berry in and eat the next and maybe the next one, too, if it was fat. After a while, she’d sit down in the shade to rest. She decided she might as well eat the few berries in the bottom of her basket--so they wouldn’t be lonely.

(the evaporated version - 59 words)

On sunny days, they'd gather wild strawberries in the meadows. Phoebe's basket never got full. She'd put in one berry and eat the next and maybe the next one, too--if it was plump. After awhile, she decided she might as well eat the few berries in the bottom of her basket--so they wouldn't be lonely.

I could probably cut it even more, but I have to be careful not to take away too much of the rhythm and voice of the words. Then it would be so thick, that it wouldn't flow anymore...or even worse, it would be so dry, it would wouldn't have any flavor at all.

Any of you that have been following my JIFFY count, you may have noticed that I'm not going to make it to my goal this month. I'm not discouraged, though. I did get a good rough draft on "Nando's Bible" and have entered the Faithwriters' Challenge each week (except one this month). Of course, I've been counting the words in my daily blog posts. (575 today) So, I haven't stopped writing completely.

It's going to take time to "dehydrate" my novel, but I'm confident that it will come out tasting much better in the end.


Karen said...

I love the creative way you discuss cutting your novel. Leave it to a creative writer...

Sherri Ward said...

Good analogy. And although writing is fun it is also hard work!

mrspotts said...

Your condensing reminds me of the process by which prose is distilled into something that approaches poetry, the way that fruit wine can become lovely brandy...


Related Posts with Thumbnails