some writerly person (Hemingway?) said that about the process of cutting brilliant pieces of writing, for the sake of the whole.
Tonight, I started to see what it means. Me and Catherine drank tea and brainstormed ideas from what Valerie Parv/fairy godmother had to say about my novel. We were only brainstorming the first couple of chapters, but what came out, finally, was a much better, smoother plotline.
That cuts about a third of my book out. Let’s see, we got rid of an affair the hero has with the neighbour’s daughter that blows up in his face on his wedding night; a strained marriage after said wedding night; and a miscarriage by the heroine’s sister, to the hero.
Ah, the plot gymnastics of first novels.
Valerie said to me “If it’s a choice between what the characters are doing and who the characters are, always pick the latter.” This makes a lot of sense to me, and I know these two characters love just hanging out and talking about things like what exactly to call women’s bits and still be delicate.
It’s a pretty confronting process, especially as I loved writing so many of the scenes I’ll be axing, but now that the initial shock has begun to wear off I feel good about it. It’s like lancing a wound, or coming clean about a secret.
As Valerie put it, it’s like writing your thesis without proper documentation of your argument. It doesn’t matter how polished the writing is, you can’t hide that kind of blackhole.
Readers aren’t idiots, in other words.