Monday, April 25, 2011

Spring Cleaning From Page #1

Anyone else had time to do spring cleaning?

Okay – maybe time isn’t the issue.

Anyone else motivated to do spring cleaning? ;-)

Around here, it’s quite an undertaking. 5 kids, two full-time working parents, a monster-sized dog. Scary!

-          Take out the old.

-          Toss what I no longer need or what isn’t working.

-          Make room for new things.

-          Get rid of what’s gathering dust…even if it hurts.

Yeah, you know where I’m going don’t you?

Even had manuscript-cleaning moments? It takes the same amount of motivation, time, and energy to purge our beautiful stories. Crit groups, contests, writing buddies – all of these help point out our story-cleaning needs.

So what do we need to do?

-          Take out the old stuff

o   When you go through an edit your first draft, you recognize the things you may not need anymore. Ways to rewrite something using more active words, or ways to ‘show’ more than tell.

-          Toss what is no longer needed or isn’t working

o   Once we delve into our story, we can find ways to tighten the plot and structure. And…and bad as it hurts to write this, even some of the best scenes may not ‘work’ in your story anymore. I just finished cutting a scene I adore because it doesn’t move the story forward – but REALLY slows it down.

-          Make room for new things

o   As we develop these imaginary worlds, we discover new characters, new backstories, new plot twists that we didn’t plan for, so it’s important to take some time away from the story. A break gives us a fresh perspective.

None of this is easy. Sometimes it hurts to toss, change, or rewrite various parts of our stories, but to become better writers with more captivating stories, we must be prepared to do some ‘spring cleaning’ without our stories too.

What have you had to change or toss from your manuscript to give it a fresh look?

20 comments:

Sherrinda said...

Ouch. I haven't edited deep enough to warrant a scene deletion. I bet that really hurt. I am hoping that I learn to edit with that much depth.

As for spring cleaning the house....I keep telling myself I missed spring...it is getting hot enough here to think of it as summer. :)

Mary Vee said...

Hmmm spring cleaning.
A painful yet rewarding experience. :0
AND a chore I need someone to tell me to do...
I best get busy spring cleaning my manuscript.
Thanks, Pepper:)

Casey said...

Spring cleaning the MS right now! In hopes of having it ready for ACFW... ;-)

Mary Vee said...

Arm in arm with spit polished MS. ACFW Publishers, editors, et al will need sunglasses, eh, Casey? :)

Casey said...

Let's hope so, Mary. ;-)

Joanne Sher said...

This is SOOO hard, Pepper. I'm sort of working on this in my current fiction WIP. Just need to remember the words are NOT my children. Know what I mean?? I'm considering dumping my entire first chapter - and I LOVE it (which is why I'm only thinking about it LOL).

Casey said...

That is very hard, Joanne. I'm going through that right now. What I have found is if you think is this word going to keep me from publication? That might seem a bit extreme, but it will put it into perspective. Suddenly those words won't seem so hard to cut. ;-)

Beth K. Vogt said...

While I've moved past chapter 1 in my WIP, I had mixed reactions to the chapter. Just didn't land it like I wanted to. So, while I continue with forward motion, I am also back to chapter 1 trying to figure why it's not working. I'm not sure if I'm tossing or rewriting--but there's definitely some changes ahead. Thanks for the spring cleaning analogy!

Mary Vee said...

Bethm
I'm sure you could give some tips from your fabulous first chapter products. I have had a love hate relationship with mine. I've been amazed when others read my first chapter aloud. I wanted to intterupt and say, "No, you need to read it like this," and "Can't you feel the setting? It's right there?"and "Clues to the exciting plot are on the first page--can't you see them?"
Dear oh, dear. Times like this I may need a U-haul for my spring cleaning!! LOL

Mary Vee said...

whoops! I meant to address the last commment to Beth followed by a comma not an "m".

Jeanne T said...

Really liked the spring cleaning transition from my home to my writing. My home probably won't see a top to bottom spring clean this year, but I'll do what I can. I like your "categories for cleaning" by the way. :)

My wip got a complete scrub down about a month ago. It's died and being resurrected. It's been tough, but I'm really excited as I re-plan it to see the depth and new story as it comes forth.

Thanks for the encouragement to not hold onto things that aren't working!

Cindy R. Wilson said...

I love this analogy, and I've been busy, busy with spring cleaning at my home!

Jeanne, I love that phrase "scrub down". Sometimes that's exactly what our stories need! Even though finishing that first draft is exhilarating and special, replanning a story and getting where it ultimately needs to be can be just as rewarding.

Sarah Forgrave said...

Great analogy, Pepper! Good for you cutting that scene. That is the hardest thing ever, but you sacrificed for your baby. :)

And Cindy, I had to laugh when I saw you've been busy w/ spring cleaning. Is somebody nesting? :) (I was the world's craziest nester when I was pregnant, so I can relate.) :)

Keli Gwyn said...

I've been organizing my writing room. The contents of my office have been strewn all over the house for days. Gwynly assembled my nifty new desk over the weekend, and I'm moving back in. I love having more space, but I still have too much stuff to fit in. Time for some weeding.

I feel for you on having to cut a scene you loved, Pepper. I keep such material in a Mined Nuggets file. (Can you tell I live in California's Gold Country? =) Somehow moving the deleted portions to the file makes removing them from my story a little less painful.

I had to cut 86K words from my story and rewrite 75K of them. Losing 3/4 of the story was tough, but the new version is heaps better than what I started with, which made my hard work worth the discomfort I endured.

Julia said...

Great post, Pepper! And Cindy, I admit I was chuckling about the Spring cleaning. I'm still participating in operation complete MS, so I'm not working on my "army corners" yet.

Mined Nuggets? I love that name, Keli! Wow, you are brave with the rewrites.

My husband and I used to grow bonsai and I always think of it as being similiar to writing in many ways. Sometimes you have to cut those favorite branches because they won't work with the tree as a whole. The most severe pruning usually yields the best tree.

Pepper said...

Hey everybody.
Sherrinda, Case, and Mary - I'm hoping to spit-polish my manuscripts for ACFW too (and hoping to have some AWESOME roomates, btw)

Joanne,
I TOTALLY understand your plight. It is so hard to toss stuff you love in your ms. I chopped the first 5 chapters (DID YOU READ THAT!?! FIVE) and know I've started in the best spot. But I still mourn those 'lost' chapters.
Sigh

Pepper said...

Jeanne,
Isn't it fun to watch what will happen when we don't hold the reigns too tightly ;-)

Pepper said...

Thanks, Sarah.
Tough stuff, but it makes for a better story.

I have a harder time with the actual house 'spring cleaning." ;-)

Pepper said...

Keli,
Oh man! WHAT A REWRITE!!! But it's amazing to see how the transformation can be worth the cut!

Cindy R. Wilson said...

Sarah and Julia, I am SO nesting :) I have daily lists and weekly lists and monthly lists...oh boy. I'm out of control :) Now if only I could be this organized about my writing!