Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Balancing the Book

Balance is nearly as important in a novel as it is on an athletic field, a fact I wrestled with most of the way through the process of writing and editing "The Leather Man." I think the book turned out well, although I'm still waiting for feedback from readers, the ultimate arbiters.

I had completed and copyrighted the original manuscript, described in an earlier post ("Words (2)") before I encountered "The Writer's Journey," Christopher Vogler's important and influential book on the art of producing screenplays. As Vogler himself points out, his tome works just as well planning the points that make a novel work for readers. I discovered that I had _ without reference to anything but my imagination _ peopled "The Leather Man" with most of the Archetypes Vogler considers essential. I had a Hero, an Antihero, a Mentor, a Shapeshifter, Allies and a Trickster.

Similarly, I'd written situations to cover most of the Stages of the Journey, outlined in what Vogler calls Book Two of his book.

In my novel, both title character Ben Steinbrecher and Antihero Quintus LeClaire hear a "Call to Adventure," refuse the call, meet a mentor, cross thresholds, encounter allies and enemies, face ordeals, find rewards and reach Vogler's version of "Resurrection" before both are able to "Return with the Elixir."

But _ as I wrote in the fourth post _ my book was out of balance and over-written. Editing out the fat reduced the size of the first part, which illustrates how the components of a college football team are assembled, along with introducing the characters. But I had to revise and rearrange most of the second part, which covers training camp through a road victory which marks the high point of the season. The final third of the book wraps up football completely and moves quickly into the part where both Steinbrecher and LeClaire face unanticipated challenges that test their sanity and their will to live.

After submitting the final manuscript to Archway Publishing, I did a page count and found a pleasing symmetry: "The Leather Man" now runs to 272 pages between the Prologue and Epilogue. Of those, the 90-page first section contains a Prologue and 15 chapters. There are 24 chapters and 96 pages in the second section and 16 chapters and the Epilogue in the final 86 pages.


1 comment:

  1. Interesting perspective on the need to edit. Enjoyed this post!