Monday, August 2, 2010

breaking up with your pages

Writing today, I am trying to cut the pages in my book where I am moving from point A to point B; in other words, the places where inspiration was not hitching a ride with me, and I am plodding along. Why is it so hard to do? It's not even "killing my darlings." I think my darlings are, well, darling, and I am keeping them.

Is it like not breaking up with the wrong someone until someone better comes along? That's not very brave. Right?


  1. Kelly, could you describe in more detail your process for making those cuts? Perhaps a short example. This is a challene, and something I'm going through right now too.

  2. AARGH!! Kelly, I feel your pain. I can never figure out what is important to me, and what is important to the story, and separate the two. Ugh. I ditto Molly in wanting to know more about the process...

  3. Ha, I am in the same boat, Kelly. This is what I do:
    - Print out a hard copy of the entire ms.
    - Take it somewhere (out of the house) where I can sit relatively uninterrupted for several hours (a cafe, a library, or someone else's house.
    - Read the ms with a pen in hand, as though it is not mine but a ms I have been hired to edit.
    - Be ruthless and cut, slice, or add whatever I feel like, whether it is large chunks or minimal edits. Do it all in one go if possible, no matter how long it takes.
    - go home and type the edits into a copied draft on the computer.
    _ Repeat.

    I've already repeated this about a dozen times with my current ms, and will likely do it at least a dozen more. The trick is to pretend the words are not mine and then I can really have fun with revisions. They are just words after all-they are meant to be toyed with.

  4. Hey Lisa, I do that too! And the story gets a little clearer every time you make a run at it, and that's really satisfying, too.

  5. Two nights before my grad reading, I went through my thesis and slashed every unnecessary word (tons of uninspired babble). I knew where I wanted to start reading, and I knew where I wanted to end up. I went from something like 22 pages to 9. I took out an entire chapter (which I may move to a later spot). My inspiration came from workshop with Kelly and Claire. They told us to play with moving things around.

    It's just a first draft opening, but now it's a leaner first draft opening. I think the enormous pressure of having to read my work out loud helped me to be ruthless with the cuts.

  6. Lisa's method is exactly what I do, and am doing, now in a library in Providence, just before in Seven Stars Bakery (best coffee house in RI, not that y'all will be here), and I also read it aloud, often to my husband while we're driving on long trips, or on the phone to my sister in England. Then I can really hear where it's dragging! So thank you, Lisa!

  7. Thank you all. It's so nice to have a picture of the process. And Danette, I was also editing and cutting the whole residency.