One Writer’s Journey

June 25, 2014

Rewriting: What to cut

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:58 am
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CutRecently, I read a blog post by fellow author Margo Dill on getting rid of a confusing subplot.  I had to laugh.  So often when I’ve had an element of story (subplot, hook, paragraph) that I find myself struggling to get right, the answer is  cut it out.  Get rid of it.  It wasn’t really necessary so quit trying to fix it.

It doesn’t matter if I’m rewriting a piece of YA nonfiction or a picture book.  I always look for things to cut.  Here are some of the things that I’ve had to jetison.

Page 1.  One day, I workshoped a picture book.  One of the writers who critiqued it drew a line on page 2.  It was boldly labeled this is where your story starts.  The horrid thing is that she was right and that I had rewritten that first page dozens of times trying to make it work.  Bye bye useless first page!

A character.  Have an adult character who keeps taking your story over?  Who won’t let you main character struggle?  Wave bye bye!   That’s what I did when I got rid of the mom in a fantasy novel.  Every time I turned around, she was putting her foot down and getting in the way.  Getting rid of her hightened the plot in oh so many ways.

Favorite line.  Recently, I workshopped a fiction picture book that was all but finished.  All but.  Key words.  Fortunately, one of the women in my group is a multi-published picture book author.  She struck through my very favorite line.  “Do you need this?”  The truth was that I loved the line but it stood out.  It didn’t entirely fit.  It needed to go.

Post-climax.  Normally, I wrap things up too quickly but the same woman who cut my favorite line cut the last scene in the same picture book.  “Needed?”  Of course, I needed it.  That’s why I’d spent so much time rewriting it . . . crud.  I cut that scene and showed it to my husband.  “Wow.  I’m not sure what you did but I love this new ending.” Fine, fine, I’m slowly getting the clue.

If it’s a struggle to make it fit, acknowledge that it doesn’t and pull it out.

What kinds of things do you cut when you are rewriting your work?  To find out more about how I rewrite, see today’s post at the Muffin.




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