All of this shrinking was done by Sarah, of course. She wrote a wonderful post about it. When she was finished with the manuscript, she sent it to me. I read it and sent it back with comments and fixes, and Sarah sent new fixes to me, and I sent her more comments and fixes, and so on. But they were minor. And in the process of reading and rereading the new condensed story and comparing it to the original trilogy I have learned a great deal about story structure and maybe even glimpsed how writers adapt their novels to screenplays.
Let me tell you, it's like milking a wild lioness that can crush your head open as a ripe walnut. Better don't attempt it at home alone, unless you know what you're doing. And better yet, have a good reason to do it, as it seems old books rather like to be left alone. It's very tempting to try and convert them to your current writing style, which I almost did. Thank God Sarah slapped my hands and stopped me. At the present moment the clean final FINAL copy of Siren Suicides graces my Inbox and I will get to reading it as soon as I'm done reading TUBE, Draft 2. Then Royce will proofread it one more time, just in case we missed something, and off it goes to Stuart for formatting.
Well then. Here are the 10 things I have learned from this process.
1. Trust your editor.
2. Trust your editor.
3. Trust your editor.
4. Did I mention, trust your editor? LET YOUR EDITOR DO THEIR BLOODY JOB.
5. Don't touch your old writing. You won't fix it without destroying it first.
6. When adding anything new, mimic your old style of writing. If you can't do it, ask your editor to do it for you.
7. Your story is not a linear narrative to be simply shortened here and there. It's a living organism with arms and legs and kidneys and ribs and a liver. When you decide to shrink it, you'll have to leave the important bits in and hack the unimportant parts out. You'd want to leave the brain and the heart, or the bladder and the shithole, depending on the type of story you want to end up with. It won't be the same. IT WON'T. Accept it and finish the job.
8. One line can make a big difference. Have multiple people read the final manuscript before publishing. With all the cutting, you're bound to miss old clues to plot twists that no longer exist and will confuse the hell out of your readers.
9. Take your time to slowly read through it. Read aloud if you can. Find your old rhythm and follow that, NOT how you think it should sound, but how it sounded when you wrote it. Try to preserve that rhythm when cutting parts out. DO NOT DO IT YOURSELF.
10. If stumped or in doubt or unsure how to proceed, read lines 1-4 of this very helpful list.
To summarize, I do not recommend you attempt this feat without professional help. If you don't have professional help, better don't touch it at all and leave it be. I would've let it be if not for many of you telling me that the books felt choppy and raw and repetitive and could really use a big good scrub to get to the point faster. The point being the ending. The sole reason I wrote the darned thing. So I listened to you and it finally happened.
I can tell you, though, I WILL NEVER DO THIS AGAIN. I can also tell you that Sarah told me that SHE WILL NEVER DO IT AGAIN EITHER. I suppose you can make your own conclusions about the pain involved in said attempt.
The Second Edition of Siren Suicides will be published soon. Very soon. Pre-order it now if you're awfully impatient. I will make sure to secretly kiss every page if you do.