Saturday, April 16, 2005

Cutting your favorite scene

I don't think I ever gave much credence to it, but I've definitely read before in multiple places that sometimes you have to cut your favorite description, line or scene from your book. I've even heard it stated that you ought to cut your favorites. Never really understood that until now.

Dreams of a Shaper has four parts. The first two are present day (1999), the third is a flashback and the concluding part returns to the present day. One of the things that I've learned from my critique group is about pacing. With their help, I've seen that a fair number of things in the first two parts were unnecessarily slow, dragging the book practically to a halt with details and characters that didn't really matter. In mind of that, I've been looking at the third part again, the flashback, and finally realized that it isn't going to work.

Now don't get me wrong -- the past is relevant to the story. But do those things require taking an entire quarter of the novel out of its main plotline to establish? For a while I tried to convince myself it did, but with the sneaking suspicion that I was wrong about it, I've finally sat down and read through it. As I expected to find, there's no excuse for the distance it drags the reader away from the mainline of the story.

There are other flashbacks in the book already, smaller scenes that reveal parts of the main character's past. I'm going to revisit those and see how I can work the third part into the rest of the book.

It hurts to cut it, 'cause I like it. I'm fond of the characters and the situations that show up in the flashback. But they don't build on the main story so they've gotta go. It hurts, but the book will be better for it.

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