Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Make it Meaningful

Here's a little piece of dialogue I had with a critique partner once upon a time (dramatized a tad--or maybe a lot--for your reading pleasure).

HER : Why is this scene in your book?

ME : Ummm...because it was fun to write? Plus the characters said some really witty lines.  And, oh yeah, the imagery was beautiful too.  I'm really proud of my range of mood here.

HER : Yeah, you need to delete it.

ME : *outraged gasp* What?! Why? But it's soo...soo...beautiful!  You're jealous, aren't you?  You want me to think it's awful so you can make your own story look good, don't you?

HER : No, the writing is fine--

ME : Then, you don't like the characters? I can--

HER : The characters are fine too.

ME : *throwing my hands in the air* Then what is your major malfunction, woman?!

HER : It does nothing to move the story along. 

ME : But it's soo...soo...beautiful! 

HER : Doesn't matter.  It slows the book down, bores the reader, has no significant value whatsoever on the plot. You need to get rid of it, sweetie.  

ME : But...but...I love that scene.

I think after plenty of alcohol and chocolate, I was finally able to relinquish my beloved scene. But to this day, I still have major problems getting rid of stuff I know I should.

There's almost an entire chapter in my newly finished WIP I know I should kibosh, but I'm still clinging to it, making up excuses. But this reminds me so much of my mom and dad; the family will totally love it. Or... But I need this part to help the next book in the series make a little more sense when a reader gets there.  These are pretty just excuses, personal reasons why I want to keep it, when in fact, I subconsciously know it doesn't help THIS story along, which is what I should really be thinking about!

What I should always ask is : WHY is this scene in the story?

Is it significant? Does it move the story along? If I deleted it, would the story fall apart?  If I answer no to any of these questions, then it should probably go.

But it's sooo hard. It hurts sooo much.

Like taking off a band-aid real quick, though, I've often discovered that once something unneeded is gone, I don't miss it all that much and the story really is better without it.  It's just that initial jump in the freezing lake I hate!

Do you ever have problems giving up parts of your amazing text?


Julie Eberhart Painter said...

Yes! It's a major flaw in my early drafts.

I find if I cut it and paste it at the very end of the book, it's not lost. Then when I see it was exteraneous instead of contributory, I can delete it without pain.

Richard Hacker said...

The critical words in your blog? "...getting rid of stuff I know I should" Isn't that the truth? Most of the time I too, KNOW a word, a line, a paragraph, a scene needs to go, but I won't let myself know I know -- if you know what I mean. Getting better at letting myself know earlier and letting go of what I know needs to be removed more quickly, but still, it's a struggle some time. Great post.

Ivy Bateman said...

Oh yes...with my first release...I had to cut the POV of a character I adored!! It made me so sad...I still miss him...but I knew why he had to be given the boot. Still...I thought he was terribly witty and fun...but he wasn't fun enough to have his thoughts shared with the readers. Oh well...

Linda Kage said...

A reader recently told me I should put some deleted scenes on my website. I thought that might be fun! But only the scenes I truly, honestly miss (though those are few and far between). Maybe you could put your witty deleted guy on your blog and share him with us, Ivy! I think that would be neat.

Ivy Bateman said...

Yes perhaps I could! If I can find where I put poor Issac's scenes! :)