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Author on the Road

I’m on the road without internet, so I apologize for today’s post. If you find yourself in moderation, please be patient and I or a moderator will spring you as soon as we can.

I’ve also been battling edits. Yea verily, I am proof that one should write in haste and edit/revise/tweak at leisure. Because land-o-Goshen am I having to slow myself as I work through the edits on the next release.

And to prove that the Great Author has a slightly warped sense of humor, this hit my in-box this week:

How to Know What to Cut from Your Novel.

This bit, especially:

“Darlings” that don’t advance the story

We all have stretches in our novel that are in there because we love them and they don’t advance the story and they’re just something we wanted to get on the page. These are the “darlings” in the “kill your darlings” advice.

I am not the type of editor who will tell you to get rid of all of your darlings.

Sometimes darlings are great! Not every single thing in a novel has to be completely efficient and tight and perfect! Some real magic happens when things are at least a little messy!

That said, at least take a hard look at these and do a gut check.

If you have a nagging voice that tells you to cut something… it’s probably best to listen to it. You might be able to find a way to weave these darlings in elsewhere, or they might belong in another novel.”

 

SIGH. I’m good about dialogue that serves a purpose. I avoid extraneous subplots. I make an effort to foreshadow appropriately. But oh, I don’t want to cut that clever aside, or the cute scene. Even if they slow the pace, and don’t move things, I still love them and enjoy writing them, and why can’t I leave them in, whyyyyyyyyyy?

Because they don’t move things. They serve no purpose. Some can be relocated to act as a pause, a catch-the-breath moment as tension builds. This book is a character development story with a fair amount of action. It needs the tension-release-rest-more tension-less release-shorter rest pattern building to the big finish. Less so than a thriller, but it has to build. Wonderful cute little scenes that don’t carry their freight need to go.

I’ve gone through the Stages of Editing to Reluctant Acceptance. But it doesn’t mean that I’m happy.

I’ll just have to work some things into the next novel in the series.

If all goes well, Eerily Familiar will go out the door by the 15th of this month. And then I dig into revising and editing a very, very different book, one with a far simpler overall structure, Called to the Council: Shikari Book 6.

Where do you have trouble when you write at speed, and how do you make yourself deal with it?

9 Comments
  1. When I have one of those scenes I love, if it can’t be reframed in the HEA or a short story, I’ve been known to put a Cut Scenes section in after the official end of the story. (Thank You, Marvel Comics for an excellent idea!) No one’s complained yet.

    November 10, 2019
    • This is a great idea. Cut scenes in the end-material. That scene where they’re all lying on their backs looking for shapes in the clouds, it doesn’t go anywhere or do anything but its something they loved when it happened. Or, what happened between Character and Other Character that made them so tired the next morning… ~:D

      November 10, 2019
    • mrsizer #

      I think both Cooking and Warrior Art started life as cut scenes. Possibly the marriage one (Family something?), too. I like the novellas you throw into the mix. Especially now that I notice the price so I don’t get to the end and think “where’s the rest of it?”

      it doesn’t go anywhere or do anything but its something they loved when it happened
      This. And you’ve already written it, so do _something_ with it. I don’t necessarily recommend it for book one, but once you hit the thirties, you’ve got a following who cares about your characters. The vignettes that don’t fit a plot line are still interesting.

      November 11, 2019
  2. Mary #

    I think I’ve made everything clear, and I haven’t.

    I sometimes catch it on the second pass and sometimes need second readers.

    November 10, 2019
    • I find that the later the book is in a series, the more I accidentally leave out. I forget that someone might start with that book.

      November 10, 2019
      • Mary #

        I’m working on a short story cycle now, and remembering that. Of course, some just stand alone. They gain more impact, based on what happened before or after, but it’s not needed.

        That is, they will if I manage to pull it off.

        November 10, 2019
  3. Synova #

    Writing long isn’t my problem. Leaving stuff out, is.

    I thought this was a good essay though and it didn’t hit some of my usual points of irritation. (A couple of the comments did.)

    I also thought it interesting that the author’s last point was on too much description and that he almost always finds that there’s not enough.

    November 11, 2019
    • That also caught my eye. I think he’s pointing to the pages of lush description of [landscape, food, a lost love, whatever] that don’t really relate to the plot, and that leave the characters and major McGuffins up to the imagination of the reader.

      November 11, 2019
      • Synova #

        Right. Which ended up with the famous blue curtains which needed a reason to be blue and a whole bunch of new writers deciding that they couldn’t mention the curtains at all if they weren’t important to the plot.

        I recently read a novel by one of my favorite shifter-romance authors and we got to “eat” a couple of times while she described the food everyone ordered, po-boys in LA someplace and then a NewMex spread in Old Town Albuquerque. (A mere four blocks from where I sit.) *I* noticed because local settings always distract me, and I chuckled to myself about writing off “research” travel on taxes… “See, I really did need that for my book, look, it’s right there.” BUT those scenes probably worked very well for most readers. It was okay to have them. Local color and an indication that everyone had actually traveled a significant distance from where they started.

        In fact, stuff like that goes into my “how can I use this for sci-fi” mental file because along with problem of a “jungle planet” and “desert planet” it’s really easy to make all the food all the same, too.

        November 12, 2019

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