Well, I have finally completed rewriting my story Ghostwalker. I began doing it in November 2010, and due to some events along the way (moving to America, getting married, that sort of thing) I took my time going through the story. As it is now, it's hovering somewhere around the 78,000 word mark, which qualifies it as a short novel. And yes, I'd like to try and get it published.
Looking back over the various iterations of this story, I noted a couple of things. The details of the story have changed, developed and evolved so far that the rewrite I did turned out to be just that - I would estimate that there's no more than fifteen per cent of the story that remains as it was in the previous version. Saying that, it's hard to place exactly which version is which. At no point in the past did I have a fully completed manuscript; rather I had bits and pieces linked together by the odd instructive paragraph explaining the events. Even so, the previous versions of the story ran to 120,000 words and then later 100,000 words. So it's safe to say that a lot of extraneous details and events have been removed to tighten the pacing and tell the core story as swiftly and succinctly as possible.
I'd say that when writing a story, less can very much be more. It all depends on the type of story. If you want to write an elaborate, multi-stranded story with lots of richly defined characters, then wandering over then 100,000 word mark makes sense; indeed, it's essential. If, on the other hand, you're trying to write a fast-paced, exciting thriller then that sort of word count just drags things down and slows the pace to little more than a grind. I do find that if something is painful to write, the chances are that it's going to be equally painful to read. It's the same with movies - why make it 150 minutes when you could have told it in 105 instead?
The one thing I have noticed though is that despite the many changes to the story, it remains fundamentally unchanged. It has a beginning, middle and end that are unchanged. The events take place in the same sequence. The denouement is pretty much the same. What has changed is the details of how characters move around, and how they interact. Whereas before it was a plot driven story, I hope now that events unfold because that's how those people would really act in those situations. Of course, it's still a thriller, so people do find themselves in some improbable scenarios. I just hope nobody reads it and thinks 'Why on earth did they just do that?' If they do, then it's going to be back to the drawing board.
But for now, I can relax a little and not think about this story, until I get it proofread at least. Any takers?