One thing that always seems to come with New Year's Day is resolutions—or at least the talk of them. Do you make them? As a rule I don’t make an iron-clad list of resolutions such as exercise more, eat less—stuff like that. But there are goals I should be making with my writing.
A couple months ago, an author friend challenged me to set a goal for Murder for Breakfast to have my revision completed by year end. Then my goal for January would be to write up a proposal and get it out to the editor who had asked for it at the ACFW conference last fall. If the publisher rejects the proposal, then I’d move along to another editor who had asked for the full and send the completed manuscript to her. Two different publishing houses with two different requests.
I spent Christmas with another author friend, and we went over my story’s first chapter. She pointed out some flaws in the first paragraph that sent me into defense mode. You’d have thought I’d been placed on the front lines of World War III, facing the worst of all enemies. Well, maybe it wasn’t that bad, but I did put on quite a hissy fit. No writer likes to let go of her “darlings.” I’d been told by others that my opener was great, intriguing, wonderful. How could she dare to tell me my darling of an opening paragraph needed fixing? Once I settled down and really listened, I realized she made sense. It wasn’t that big of a blooper. Really, all it needed was a tweak here and there.
I also ran a word count check on the full manuscript and found I was only 15,000 to 18,000 words over limit. Gulp!! The range depends on which publisher I’m talking about. The first one I intend to send the proposal to has a higher word count limit than the second publisher. So I’m back at the computer now, interspersing edits with some household chores I can no longer ignore. Already I’ve taken out 2,000 words.
Tightening a manuscript always makes it look better. My goal is to reduce this manuscript to 65,000 words by year’s end. That may sound ambitious, but if I don’t set my bar high enough, I’ll slack off. Just like going on a diet to tighten my belt always calls for stringent measures, tightening the belt on my story does the same.
That reminds me. I need to sign up for the neighborhood gym. Guess I do have a New Year’s resolution after all!