It’s the last day of February, hooray (come on, Spring). I’ve been re-reading Dick Francis because I didn’t want any new stories getting in my head while I’m cutting Nita, and he’s all British racing which is nothing like Nita.
After I said I was cutting back the political plot in Nita to focus on the romance, Nicole asked, “Does that mean you’re losing the entirety of the political intrigue? From what I remember reading, that was a big part of the plot in the beginning.”
I tried to answer this in the comments, but it’s complicated, so here’s a longer answer.
I have the notes in place for Act One now, but I’m moving on to Two (and Three) so I know what I have to have in Act One to set them up and what I can cut with impunity. Act Four needs a rewrite but probably not any cuts, so later for that. Act Two is 45,000 words. My goal is 30,000 words. So how do I cut 60 pages? I have a plan.
I think sometimes, when I’m stuck. in the doldrums of winter, that life is a hopeless slog. And then something pops up on the horizon and I remember that today will pass and there’s a future full of promise. Sometimes the thing on the horizon is just the sun, doing its sun thing, but that’s glorious in the middle of dark winter. Sometimes it’s the promise of warmth–it’s going to hit 50 here tomorrow and spring is closer than ever–sometimes it’s the promise of somebody wonderful–Krissie is coming in six weeks–sometimes it’s the promise of something fascinating–I’m reconceptionalizing the whole second act of Nita and it’s fascinating–sometimes it’s just the promise of something new–so many things–but above all, it’s the promise that there’s something exciting and interesting around the corner and it’s going to be good. That’s the promise of happiness, right there.
How did happiness keep its promise to you this week?
Today is Banana Bread Day. It’s also the last Saturday in my least favorite month of the year, but mostly it’s Banana Bread Day, one of my favorite sweet breads ever, which is why it’s all over Maybe This Time. Andie’s banana bread recipe is a real killer.
(Today is also International Dog Biscuit Day, but so few dogs read this blog, I went with the banana bread instead.)
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: