Friday, April 10, 2009

Don't Be Afraid of the Trash

Perhaps when people think of writers, they imagine cloistered individuals amid stacks of paper clacking away constantly on a keyboard. Maybe even an “old school” typewriter. Not entirely accurate, but then, maybe not so far from the truth.

But there are times when there’s very little click of keys at all. Instead, it’s a pondering of what’s to come. Such as the past few days. I’ve been re-reading and revising the last chapter over and over again. [Not the final chapter, the last one I have written.] Each time it’s that much better, but I’ve also been reading it in conjunction with the rest of my notes, skimming through my Malleable Outline, seeing what I need to fit in and how it plays out.

Well, sometimes, that includes not including. What I mean is, weeding out what will no longer be necessary. Yes, it happens. Not everything one conceives makes it into the book. It’s possible that ideas just don’t factor in anymore, for any number of reasons, such as other events rendering them useless or the realization that it’s becomes akin to stuffing 2 pounds of baloney in a 1 pound package. The trick is knowing what to eliminate and when. I consider this editing a bit different from overall revisions, as in most cases, it alters the storyline before completion of the novel. And that’s precisely the case here.

In my revisionist musings I discovered that a whole sequence of events is totally not needed. And you know what? It’s quite a relief! I can’t say I looked forward to concocting that part of the tale. Not because it didn’t interest me, but because it’s a load of research I don’t need to do. I don’t shy away from research. It’s part of the fun. But this book has been quite demanding in that department, so any rest from it is welcomed. And no, it’s not laziness that eliminated the line of story, that’s just a fringe benefit. I’ve retooled the outline and can achieve a less convoluted but just as engaging rest of the novel without it. Plus, it means I can finish the book sooner, too. I’m guessing I’m three-quarters done.

So don’t be afraid to trash ideas. Just because they showed up among the building materials of the work doesn’t mean they’re not spare parts. I do save them, though. Sometimes they’ll fit into another narrative, maybe a sequel. But this novel, MC (initials of title), is a stand alone book to the best of my knowledge. And I prefer it that way…meaning I hope the characters don’t inform me I’m wrong. It’s happened before. Twice.

1 comment:

Danielle Mari said...

I tend to overtrash. I get to a point where I feel fed up with everything and dump it.

I've adopted what a college prof (Mr. D) called the "line bank." I dump all the cuts in one file-- that way I can go back and retrieve if necessary.

But YES. One must cut. Like the sculptor with the stone- some parts must be trimmed.