Whistling Past the Graveyard, Writer’s Style


This Halloween I gave myself a writing trick and a treat.

The treat is a completed first draft of a novel. Bones, if you will. The trick is the impending self-editing.

In July I finished the draft of book 2 in my Runevision Mystery series. I took a break from the novel and moved on to work on poetry, short stories, and necessary non-writing projects.

This month I returned to book 2 with a fresh eye, assessing readability, plot structure, and continuity.

Now begins the brutal task of ‘killing my darlings’ as I revise an estimated 250,000+ words. Along the way I must slash two sub-plots that developed outside my initial outline. (In my defense, they seemed like good ideas at the time.)

Bringing the work back from the proverbial grave through self-editing seems appropriate to this time of year, doesn’t it?

27 thoughts on “Whistling Past the Graveyard, Writer’s Style

  1. The follow is because you’re interesting, not because I’m farming. I have the third part of a novel I have to put down and leave alone because I’m writing in circles. And it’s noce to se someone else outwriting the 60k limit and wondering how they managed to write three books inside one cover. Good luck!

    • Thanks, Phil. I let myself get away from my outline by expanding the subplots and additional characters that were interesting (to me at the time) but did not drive the main plot. Next thing you know: chaos. Putting work away for a time so we can view it later with a fresh eye is required (if for no other reason to stay sane). I’m saving the cut material and have since realized that much of it fits nicely into the outline for book 3. Good luck in your writing, too, and thank you for posting.

  2. Kill your darlings continually rings in my head since I am rather long winded and it goes out through my fingers too. I first heard it from my writing idol, Stephen King who attributed it to his icon, Richard Matheson.

  3. Many congrats on finishing your first draft, Jack, and I’m sure you’ll do a great job of tightening things up. Some characters are very clever at leading us astray!

      • Hi Jack. I can imagine how pleased you are to have, at least, finished the first draft. You’ve reached that first great milestone! Hopefully, there won’t be another 99 to go before you can publish. 🙂
        Yes, I’m OK, but will not be blogging for a while. I haven’t posted anything for two weeks now – a long gap for me. I’ve just decided I need a break from it and allow myself more time for other things.

      • It’s book six in the family saga I’ve been writing for the past three years, Jack. I’ve only just decided that it will be the last one but I’ll do a prequel next year. I need to spend more time on a stand-alone book I’ve had on the back boiler for the past eighteen months. I’m amazed at your 250,000+ word first draft. You might even get another book (or two) out of your slashed sub-plots. 🙂

      • Wonderful, Jean. Can’t wait to read it! How difficult is it for you to write the family saga? I think I would find it very difficult and emotional…You are right on the cut parts from my big draft: I’m saving the cuts and already can see how much of it is actually part of the outline for book 3.

      • It was actually very emotional, Jack, because three of the characters are based on real people and the times they lived in were so harsh. It was good that I could write a fictional story about them because the generation gap is big enough to do so. Some of my cousins didn’t even know that James and Mary McGrother were our g g grandparents. That’s sad, that they’ve been forgotten. I love the title you chose ‘Bones’ will you keep it, do you think?

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