Sunday, January 07, 2007

snip snipety snip

I'm on the 2nd round of cutting my novel now, which goes sometimes slowly and sometimes fast. Fast is when you can take out a chunk, as yesterday when I cut out a whole chapter--around 3000 words--chunk, into the virtual wastebasket, otherwise known as another file, because I can't bear to throw it away completely, or at least not yet. Very satisfying.
Slow is when I pick away as if the novel is an iceberg, frozen hard and impervious, and I attack it feebly, the tiniest chips of words and phrases being winkled out, melting as they fly through the air.
It amazes me sometimes how wordy I've been. Sometimes I can see my writing self making my way through the narrative as if it were a trackless jungle, the line of writing my only hope of seeing the other side. I can see the phrases and sentences I wrote while I was marking time, thinking on the page: what will Carl do next? what will he think when Isabel pinches him? who will he meet at the auction.
And I can see the places where I was thinking myself into the scene word by unnecessary word: he got up, he was standing, then he put his hand out to take the Snickers bar--all the gestures that in a movie might be beautifully meaningful and necessary, but that need to be pared away on the page so that the significant gesture, movement, expression stands out and is remembered.

5 Comments:

Anonymous kitchen hand said...

I'm glad you're keeping the bits you cut out.

1/07/2007 7:18 PM  
Blogger Kate S. said...

I love the jungle metaphor. Very evocative! It's wonderful to reach the point where you can see so much more clearly what is integral to the narrative and what isn't. Myself, I'm still wandering aimlessly through the jungle as far as my novel is concerned...

1/07/2007 8:39 PM  
Blogger lucette said...

kh--I'm afraid it's a neurotic keeping--it's the only way I can bear to cut them.
ks--sometimes it seems clearer than others. I keep having bright ideas in the middle of the night (cut 1st 30 pp! start in the cemetery!) and then realizing in front of the computer that they won't work.

1/08/2007 11:43 AM  
Blogger Erin O'Brien said...

I completely understand your Snickers bar.

1/11/2007 3:35 AM  
Blogger erieblue said...

I like the jungle metaphor, too. But the iceberg--work of art as force of nature--monumental, reflective, both awesome and fearsome--wow!!

1/11/2007 9:43 AM  

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