January 2, 2010

Novel Plotting: Cut & Paste

Okay. I've got to figure this out.

Original manuscript contains TONS of bird-walk, stream-of-consciousness scenes. Probably the majority serve no real purpose but word count, but there are others that were written on the prodding of instinct. At the time, I wrote them from the In-Zone.

The problem is, in revising, I've thus far gone back and struck most of those out, because I haven't felt they're necessary to move the plot along. However...they may be essential to defining the depth of my character.

Now's the time to analyze all this. Six years ago, I was too close to the subject matter to be able to tell if a scene belonged. I think I can be objective now that I'm distanced.

So, I'm going to have to do a little work to arrange the content into tangible parts I can manipulate. And I don't mean Post-It notes on a dry-erase board.

I need to be able to cut the actual manuscript into scenes, put them into little pockets, label them, and arrange them on the wall. Every story within the story, every anecdote and flashback must be positioned so I can see from afar:
  1. what my main character has remembered
  2. what piece of the puzzle the memory represents
  3. if the memory is essential
  4. how the memory is essential
  5. where the memory belongs
Just the simple task of printing out the original manuscript is not simple at all. The original doc has html code peppered throughout, so I have to go back and clean it up.

Then print.

Then cut.

But I feel better about it all. I need to give myself some credit. The streams-of-consciousness passages I wrote into the first draft served purposes for the time. Some of them are too weak to keep. Others just need a good polishing. Whether I drop parts or beef them up, the editing will bring the story one step closer to completion.

And that makes me very, very happy, because I realized today, counting back...I've been working on this book for SIX YEARS.

Six years.

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