Decluttering my story

indexDecluttering has officially affected every aspect of my life. Even my novel. Recently I’ve culled this beast down to a two-page synopsis, a two-paragraph elevator pitch, and finally a Twitter pitch. Not fun.

I loved writing TIES THAT BIND during National Novel Writing Month. Creating those touching scenes filled with evocative details of time and place was fun. 112K words of fun in fact. What I didn’t realize at the time was that I was merely building a stockpile of raw material from which I could (maybe) craft a novel. What I had created was a metaphorical slab of marble. Not a book–yet–just a massive lump of potential.

I should have known this, after all I used to teach a lesson about the writing process, using Play-Doh of all things. Students molded and mashed, pulled and pinched the dough until they knew what it could do. And what it couldn’t. Only then did they try to turn it into something recognizable. And only after it was created could they add details—in this case bits of different colored Play-doh. Details don’t stand alone. Descriptive details do not necessarily make a story, whereas relevant details can.

Of course, now I’m doing the opposite. Removing extraneous bits—decluttering the narrative—to reveal what I hope is the novel hidden inside. Like a sculptor, I’m removing the chunks of cold marble that don’t serve my characters’ story arc.

The heart of my story is in there–I hope–buried beneath this beautiful mess.david_head

 

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2 thoughts on “Decluttering my story

  1. I heard something recently from Ira Glass where he said that people who are creative are also people with good taste. That is why when we attempt something creative, we can tell when it’s not good and that can be so frustrating we give up. The key is to forge ahead in spite of it and keep working and working until we like the outcome.
    Love the quote from Elmore Leonard!

    Liked by 1 person

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