August 5, 2019, 1:19
So I got all ready to cut the home invasion scene and chickened out. There’s stuff in there that I don’t know how to do elsewhere–the first horrified mention of Button, the entrance of Joyce the Cat, Nita taking the fall for Button and beginning their relationship, Frank as an important character–plus without this I have pages of Talk. I like Talk. I’ll spend my entire story just doing Talk if nobody stops me, but Talk Kills Story, so I need action, bodies in motion, Aristotle insists on it, so . . .
Damn. I know Faulkner said to kill your darlings, but have you read Faulkner? Darlings all over the place.
So today, I find something else to cut in that damn first act, so I can do the second act tomorrow. Think of this as a live blog of the Reduction of Act One. Not that that’s not what the whole blog has been about for weeks. Argh. But first I have to eat lunch and take the dogs for their Carl Moment. (Carl is the neighbor who lives two doors down who has a darling Yorkie named Jackson and who gives them cookies and pats and tells them they’re Good Dogs. It’s the high point of their day.). But then, we’re cutting Act One. BRB.
6:42: Stuff happened. Phone calls. Dogs to walk. Thinking to do. So far, no cuts at all.
The thing is, I do believe word counts matter. The first act has to be the longest, but there’s so much set-up in a first act that there tend to be boring parts, “stuff the reader has to know” that she doesn’t want to know because she wants to get back to the juice of the story. I think the home invasion thing is important, but it keeps Nita and Nick apart longer and that’s bad for the story. I need to set the scene of the town, but just Nick looking at the town is not action and not interesting. He learns crucial stuff at the Historical Society but “this is the history of the town” is not riveting. I need the “good parts version” of this act, not the parts people skip.
I’m cogitating. And eating stir fry. And running out of Diet Coke, so that’s a crisis right there.
The glorious thing about. being self-employed is that I can sleep as late as. Iwat (except om Thursdays), so I’m now in my favorite work time: no phone calls, no deliveries, no chance of wandering off with the dogs. It’s dark, everybody else is asleep, and the bears are wandering around outside looking for trash. Also I’ve zeroed in on the place to cut.
Sequence One was the intro stuff. 5000 words (rounded off)
Sequence Two is the sequence where they meet I’m the bar. 6000 words.
Sequence Three is the aftermath with minions including the home invasion: 5400 words.
Sequence Four is the breakfast scene and stabbing: 5300 words.
Sequence Five is the complications stuff where they’re apart: 8300 words.
Sequence Six is the crisis scene: Nick goes to Hell and Nita finds the head in the box: 4700 words
Sequence Seven is the big climax on Demon Head: 3500 words.
Since I want the sequences to get shorter, there’s a big clue to where to cut: That Sequence Five which is all over the place and doesn’t have Nick and Nita together. I knock 3000 words out of there, the rest of that act falls right into line, or close enough I’ll call it in line.
Plus it’s all that “the reader should know this” stuff:
• The Mayor threatens Nick.
• The Captain interrogates Button.
• Nick asks Vinnie about Nita and her family.
• The Captain interrogates Nita.
• Nita and Button confer.
• Nick walks through Deville, sees the Municipal Building
• Nita and Button talk to Jason and Lily.
• Nita interrogates Vinnie.
• Nick talks to Marvella at the Historical Society
Yeah, I got bored just writing that list.
I like the Mayor threatening Nick, but the Captain and Button can go. Same with Nick interrogating Vinnie, I can cut that way back; I think the only. thing I need there is that Mr. Crome is a necromancer and Nick tells Vinnie to tell Nita he’ll take her to lunch. The Captain and Nita probably has to be in there, but I can cut that back. Nita and Button definitely, but cut that back and combine it with the Lily/Jason stuff; I need Lily introduced here, but not that much. Nita and Vinnie can be cut way back. So I think can Nick and Marvella. So:
• The Mayor threatens Nick.
• Nick tells Vinnie to ask Nita to lunch (cut back).
• The Captain interrogates Nita (cut back).
• Nita and Button confer, Jason and Lily interrupt.
• Nick walks through Deville (cut back), sees the Municipal Building
• Nita interrogates Vinnie (cut back).
• Nick talks to Marvella at the Historical Society (cut back)
I’m not losing anything I love there, it’s just talk about stuff the reader needs to know but doesn’t want to know, so it can go. I can do that. I don’t know if I can cut 3000 words which is 12 to 15 pages, but I can give it the old college try. I’m gonna need another Diet Coke, though. Fuel for thought. Maybe a pretzel. The basics.