Friday, September 12, 2008

What's In a Name?

I’ve been editing and rewriting sections of my contemporary novel this week. Following Strunk and White’s advice to “omit unnecessary words”, I am slicing and dicing my way to a tighter flow.

My eyes are always straying to the word count meter in the lower left-hand corner of my computer screen. When a rewritten scene makes the numbers climb, I grimace; but when I highlight an entire section to delete… oh, baby! I almost feel like the bullied kid on the playground when she finally fights back.

It feels good.

I have a total word count range I’m going for with this book, which is new territory for me. As I get further into this draft, hacking and splicing away, I find that while I’m cutting the fat, I’m falling in love with my characters again. A few of them are growing smarter, funnier, and more vibrant; but in other cases, I’m making people disappear all together.

Like the character “Guy” in the movie Galaxy Quest, I’ve realized I have some disposable characters. I may know everything about them, but my readers certainly don’t need to. When all's said and done, Crewman Number Six doesn’t need a name; he’s just not that important. He’s just food for the lava monster.