2023 More Reading: January (+ Old Phuul Update)

Completed reads for January

  • Lilith, by George MacDonald
  • The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (poem), by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
  • Christabel (poem), by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
  • The Saga of Ragnar Lodbrok, by Anonymous
  • The Lay of Kraka (poem), by Anonymous
  • 1066 and All That, by W.C. Sellar and R.J. Yeatman

Ragnar Lodbrok and Kraka are Margaret Sclauch’s translation.

A fairly quiet start to 2023 reading, though if truth be told, it’s a case of general mood affecting concentration. January has not been a pleasant month at the psychological level, at least not for the mid-to-late portions.

As noted, I cracked 100,000 words on Old Phuul on 6th January, and finished the draft on 7th January, at 102,172 words. The last three or so weeks have consisted of editing (or breaks from editing). As of 31st January, the revised manuscript sits at 99,672 words, and I do not think it that far off from submission to the publisher (who gets first dibs, as per contract). Curiously, I am still “up” on January overall, having started the month at 94,560 words.

Now, it should be recalled that most edits involve the removal of excess words, sentences, or even paragraphs. You’re trying to remove the fat from your story, while leaving the muscle. My editing does indeed remove words, but it also tends to add to descriptions… which means overall my edits look less extensive than they really are. I find my initial writing tends to be underwritten, as a result of not taking my time in places. So overall, I prefer to think of editing as subtracting “bad words” and adding “good words,” and the net change to wordcount is less important than the polish that goes in.

As an aside, one editing tip I’ve picked up: run a manuscript search for cases of the word “be”. The verb “to be” in its “is/was” forms is, of course, a cornerstone of any writing in English, but the verb in its “be” form is often harder to justify, and often a sign of a weaker sentence. So once you’ve found the words in question, decide if you really need them. In the event, I was able to cull some 80% from the manuscript.

(My other weakness? Overuse of dialogue tags).

Update: 2nd February, 2023: Old Phuul manuscript submitted, at 98,807 words.

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