Shaking Things Up: Making Big Changes

I’m not the only one who likes the sofa in the dining room.

Last Thursday as he left for work, my son dropped a request in my lap. “I’m having the everyone over to game tomorrow.  Can we swap the living room with the dining room?”

We’ve done this before.  Our living room is much larger and when all the leaves are in the dining room table scooting around it is like a slow-motion slot car race.  So when he got home that night, we moved our rather large sofa into the dining room.  Our dining room table made it into the living room.  Then the coffee table slid into the dining room and we placed the chairs around the dining room table.

The funny thing? I love having the sofa in the dining room.  I’m not sure why since it is a smaller room but I feel less crowded in there.  Maybe because the sofa isn’t facing a wall.  And, as we placed the chairs around the dining room table, I found myself evaluating things.  Whoa, this is really a lot of chairs.  Do we need them all?  Two ended up in the basement.  A few more pieces may go away.

Sometimes when you are working on a piece of writing, you know something isn’t working but you aren’t sure what.  Does the beginning drag?  If so, you may have started too early.  Trim your beginning scene by scene until you can’t cut any more.  Stop howling!  You don’t have to delete the scenes.  Cut them and put them in another document.  For almost every piece I write, I have a document labeled “stuff.” This is where I put the things that I’ve trimmed out just in case I need them back.  But once I’ve cut out scene one I can see how the whole thing works with my new lean, mean opening. Sometimes I have to rearrange some things to make this new opening work, but that’s okay.

The first fix you try may not work but that’s okay, too.  The great thing about writing in the digital age is that these changes are relatively simple to make.  You can rewrite a scene with a new setting or a new point-of-view character.  You can change the tense.  And it if doesn’t work?  You pull things back out of the stuff document and try again.