Minor cuts in a scene–taking out adjectives and adverbs, getting rid of unnecessary clauses, lopping off some “said”s–can just be done on a read through. But if I need to really hack a scene down, I have to do the scene level process of scene sequences: I have to break the scene down into beats.
So here are the beats of the first scene of Nita before the newest cuts (Nita vs. Button, 2649 words).
Nita ended up being over 135,000 words which is Way Too Many, so this week between bouts of vertigo, dealing with taxes, and trying not to throw up from both, I decided to trim that book. The first thing I did was divide it back into acts and then looked at Act One, scene by scene. I mention this just to reassure everybody, especially my McDaniel students, that just because I teach something, doesn’t mean I’ve learned it. Because of course scene by scene tells me nothing. What I need are scene sequences. Duh. Only took me an hour or two to remember that.
When I looked at Act One in scene sequences, they fell into this pattern:
Sometimes you just need time to recharge, but for some reason, recharging feels like being lazy. It’s not. It’s necessary to withdraw the brain from the general excitement of life and just let it rest. No guilt, no should-be-doings, just aaaaaah. You need that.
It’s Valentine’s Day! Take the day off and read a romance!
(Side Note: Last night, I was reading Going Postal by Terry Pratchett again (published in 2004) when I realized the bad guy–a lying, exploitive, money-grubbing son of a bitch named Reacher Gilt–lived in Tump Tower. I swear, I’ve read this book at least ten times and that joke never landed until now. Pratchett is just the best.)
Yesterday, I worked on getting out of the ER. Fortunately, I was not in there for a heart attack; vertigo and nausea (I’m thinking it’s my meds). Finally my neighbor Allan came and sprung me about seven after which I went to sleep. Woke up feeling great. Then remembered Working Wednesday. I suck as a blogger. Today the snow has stopped (always call 911 in the middle of a horrible snow storm), I feel fine, and, uh, here’s Working Wednesday.
What’s your plan for today? (Do not choose “go to ER, lose whole freaking day.”)
Something Emily said in the comments on the happiness post yesterday reminded me of something I’ve always believed in but had forgotten: If you’re not failing now and then, you’re not trying hard enough. It had been awhile since I’d failed, but then it had been awhile since I’d tried going outside my own head. I’d been writing for ten years, I just hadn’t finished anything. No chance of failure there. I never got near the mountain top.
I should be clear, I don’t think of Nita as a failure as a book, but there’s no denying I failed to get it published with an editor I have a contract with. And that was surprising, but when I thought about it, not that surprising. I had even warned Mollie there was a chance Jen would turn it down because it was just too weird. And of course, the sensible thing to do in the future would be to not write weird, to stop trying so hard.
I had a bad day and then I had a good week. Something happened that I didn’t expect, and it blocked the path I thought I was going to take to my future, so that suddenly I had to find a new path that didn’t look anything at all like what I’d planned, and just as suddenly I realized how many options for new paths I had, how many new directions I hadn’t seen because I was concentrating on what was supposed to happen. All of a sudden, there was all this potential that hadn’t been there before. I have no idea what my life is supposed to look like now, which means it can look like anything I want. And that, not surprisingly, makes me happy
What did happiness look like in your life this week?