I finished a draft of a novel last December, and put it on the shelf to marinate for a while. One of my writing goals for 2012 is to revise and submit it, so for the last month or two, I’ve been thinking about getting that done. I’ve been thinking about it—instead of doing it—because it seems like an overwhelming task.
I’ve spent the last several years revising short fiction, and the prospects of editing a 90,000 word novel is daunting. I’m simply not sure where to start. Thankfully author Marc Schuster has come to the rescue with what I think is an excellent idea: the elevator pitch approach to editing. Marc says:
“[F]igure out your elevator pitch and also craft a brief synopsis of the novel—a single page at the most—but to do it without looking at your manuscript. Basically, you’re explaining to yourself what you think you just finished writing. Once you’ve done…start reading your manuscript with an eye toward whether or not it matches your elevator pitch in broad terms and your synopsis in relation to the details.”
This idea is a thing of genius (why didn’t I think of it?), and something I intend to try. Distilling my novel into a single sentence and then a brief summary will give me a nice guidebook to help me stay the course. With it, I can objectively examine each sentence, paragraph, and scene to ensure it is important to fully realizing my vision for the book. I can then cut or hone as necessary.
I realize this won’t be easy, but I think it will be helpful. Already I feel less overwhelmed. Now I need to stop writing short stories for a while and start working on my pitch.