I had a friend ask if I would reread a manuscript of theirs recently. I love this person dearly and adore their story so of course I said, “Of course!” The middle of the story was what they asked me to focus on as it felt a bit draggy to them and they couldn’t quite pinpoint why. After reading the manuscript, I agreed with them (to be fair a LOT of stories drag a bit in the middle so it is not an uncommon issue at all and can generally be fixed pretty easily). While I couldn’t pinpoint exactly what was causing the story to drag, I had a few suggestions I shared with my friend and while talking to them I remember a great tip I had read from a list that Joss Whedon had compiled during an interview with Catherine Bray which is:
CUT WHAT YOU LOVE
Here’s one trick that I learned early on. If something isn’t working, if you have a story that you’ve built and it’s blocked and you can’t figure it out, take your favorite scene, or your very best idea or set-piece, and cut it. It’s brutal, but sometimes inevitable. That thing may find its way back in, but cutting it is usually an enormously freeing exercise.
This falls in line with the famous line “Kill Your Darlings”. It’s a frightening concept, one that when followed through on can make a writer feel like they have cut the heart out of their manuscript. That said, I think if you can do this exercise and truly analyze what effect cutting what you love has on the work as a whole, it can make you a stronger puzzle solver and as a result, a better writer.
Now, just to be clear – I’m not saying at all that this will solve the dilemma my friend has with their current manuscript, or any one else’s for that matter, but it is a great exercise to discover where the issue may lie.
To read the entire tip list from Joss Whedon you can visit this link
I highly recommend reading this list as Joss has some great advice.
See you all again Friday! In the meantime stay safe out in that snow and ice!