Here Come the Shears Again …
March 24, 2015 § 2 Comments
I’ve been struggling with a scene in which the protagonists find a secret message on something they stole off a dead man. The whole chapter felt clumsy and dull, and I’ve spent way too much valuable time trying to fix it.
As often happens when I’m in a jam, I serendipitously stumbled across a blog post (which I now cannot find to share, argh) in which the author said, “When in doubt, cut the scene.”
So tonight, I opened the manuscript to the scene that’s troubling me and looked to see what would happen if I cut it. Do I really need a lengthy conversation-slash-argument between my protagonists about the message? No, I could cut it. I could cut the entire chapter … except then I wouldn’t introduce a secondary character who has a minor role to play later.
A secondary character who, I suddenly realized, can be cut from the book entirely … because he pretty much isn’t in it, anyway.
I’d intended for him to be this lurking, sinister presence throughout the story, but he lurked so well he disappeared. When he does pop up, he doesn’t come off as sinister; he’s rather boring, really. Drab. Dull.
The good news is, he isn’t a point-of-view character, so removing him should be relatively painless.
The bad news is, I’d planned for him to be the main character in the sequel.
After a moment of panic, a quick dip into depression, and a very deep breath, I knew I had to do it. I realized it solves another clunky scene later, and a major issue at the end of the book. And when you can kill two birds with one stone, you hurl that sucker.
I have another character that may be able to step up and become the protagonist of the sequel without changing it too much, so that makes me feel a little better. Cutting this character out is going to be a lot of work, though, and I’m not looking forward to it. I’ll just need to repeat my mantra, I’m making the book better. I’m making the book better.
Right now, though, I’m doing what any author does when faced with the daunting task of making a massive change: I’m procrastinating and whining about it on my blog.