Sunday, October 14, 2007

Writing Lessons From Chopping Things Off

This morning I made a decision that greatly improved The Battle of Raven Kill. I chopped off the first four pages. Like an executioner's axe already bloody from a busy punch list, I carved away the pages of setup and description that I had previously thought necessary. Why? Because they were slowing down the story and kept bringing up more questions than they answered. Many people feel that they must explain things to their readers early on in the story or else the reader won't 'get it.' What I found when I tried to do this was that I wasn't making things clearer, I was making them murkier. Questions like 'who are these people?' and 'what is their relationship to the main character?' kept coming up. Every time I tried to work on that section I found I needed to expand things when I knew I wanted to contract them. The solution was beginning to become apparent and this morning I just did it. Reading through the reworked opening showed me that everything I was trying to set up could be done in one paragraph. It is simply much better this way.

Added bonus: I saved the writing to another file and now I have Deleted Scenes that I can add to the DVD.


Emily Suess said...

Cutting things out is the hardest part of revision, at least that's what I think. Saving your deleted scenes--that's brilliant!

Ann (bunnygirl) said...

Thank you for this! I'm not as guilty as some when it comes to writing a lot of unnecessary backstory, but I still seek ways to become more concise.

I signed up for the recent AW flash fiction carnival, thinking no way could I tell a story in less than 1,000 words. To my surprise, I could! I've written several more short stories and it's amazing what I'm learning from the process.

Ultimately, we need to learn to trust our readers. Yes, we can go too far and confuse by leaving too much out, but it's all part of the journey toward finding that Goldilocks happy medium where it's not too much, not too little, but just right!

Jeff Draper said...

I've thought more about flash fiction myself. I keep meaning to try some of it but my other writing projects are keeping me busy enough.