One of the problems that I have with editing my own stuff is that I tend to read something and then make a checklist of what I need to do to make my book “perfect” based on what I’ve read. That’s how I ended up in endless cycles of editing. Well, no longer. I’ve decided that one I mark the chapter as done, it’s done and the only change I can do is what I barely need to do to make the page lay out properly. This brings me to an interesting debate that I am having with myself, which you can help resolve.
When I originally wrote Do You Believe In Legend? I wanted a story that went beyond a typical and gimmicky time travel story. So I created a dual century, character driven novel that bounced between two timelines. The tale starts out by a man telling a woman that he was from the future and was brought to our time when he was a young kid. The next day, his brother collapses in the woman’s arms after a freak accident sends him back to the present. The book then goes on to tell how the woman copes with having two men that are so alike, yet so different in her life as well as how the brothers feel about each other. Meanwhile, in the future, friends and family search for the time travel accident victim while dealing with their feelings about his disappearance. This all comes to a head when the people from the future find the lost brother and send a ship back for him. He returns to the future, but in the present, neither the woman or his brother are sure he survived. For the present parts, the story is mostly told from the woman’s point of view unless she isn’t directly involved in a particular scene. The woman, like the rest of us, wants to believe in the hope of the future, but is faced with the stark reality of the chaotic present. The parts involving the future are written in third person.
A few years back, I had a person read the story. They said they liked it, but they said I went into too much detail, so I trimmed the fat and removed several large chunks from both centuries. Some of which I’m planning on using at a different time. Well, now I’m reading about how details are important, but you can’t have too many or too few. You need to find the balance that creates a show, not tell world that allows your readers to put the pieces together without being left with an unsolvable mystery. That’s when my quandary kicks in.
Do I leave what I have in the book and just polish it up? Or do I cut all but the bare minimum of the future parts out? I have enough material to start another book, if I wanted to, so the writing wouldn’t be lost. Also, I have a book in the works that covers the original split up. If I took out the future parts that I’m thinking about, I could concentrate and develop the present characters and scenes more. Also, it might seem a little less confusing to the reader because I wouldn’t be bouncing back and forth so much. But if I do what I’m thinking, I might be stuck with a gimmicky book that no one wants to read and I don’t want that. Legend is too special to me to be mediocre.