Sculpting our stories

It’s been a few weeks since my last post, so it’s high time for an update.

The good news is I’ve been pleased (and, to be truthful, somewhat surprised) that the the first draft of my new WIP (the detective-mystery story) has been progressing pretty well. The main story arc is the same—a man and woman are found murdered, and eventually the evidence begins to point to a person originally thought to be above reproach.

But I’ve tossed out quite a few of my early conceptions of what the characters were all about, what their goals were, and what motivated them. And once the characters were refashioned to make them more believable, parts of the draft just had to go because they no longer made sense.

On the plus side, though, the narrative is flowing much better and each chapter links better to—and builds on—the preceding chapters. This is all a good thing.

On one of the discussion boards I’ve been frequenting, a key topic of conversation lately has been how to handle a certain sense of frustration at the task of reworking and editing a first, or even second, draft. What came to mind in reflecting on this was the similarities between a sculptor and a writer, oddly enough. Think about it. A sculptor stands before a block of stone and sees a finished and beautiful piece of art. But it still takes a lot of work to cut away, refine, polish, even hack away, if necessary, whole chunks to let that artistic vision emerge and come to life.

It’s frustrating to work on a first draft and then step back and think, you know, I really need to just whack away about a third of this and re-do it from scratch. After all, think of all the hours that went into drafting those passages! But even if they end up on the cutting room floor, our writing discards serve a purpose because they show us what won’t work in our book and help steer us to what will, if we’re willing to let them.

It still doesn’t make it easy to cut those passages. I end up storing them in a separate document because I often can’t bring myself to hit the “delete” key on them, and I keep thinking that maybe I’ll find a use for them somewhere in my draft. You know how it goes. You re-read that discarded passage and think it wasn’t all that bad, the narrative style was pretty good, the story flowed well. But as the main draft continues to develop, that passage somehow just doesn’t fit anymore. So it has to go.

So cutting away is sometimes all for the best in the end, however difficult it may be to do it. What do you all do when you hit a wall like this?

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1 Comment

Filed under General, On Writing

One response to “Sculpting our stories

  1. Pingback: Sculpting our stories | Kg Books Publishing

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