Friday, January 11, 2013

Cutting to the Chase

"Cut to the chase" is a saying that means to get to the point without wasting time.
The phrase originated from early silent films. It was a favorite of and thought to have been coined by Hal Roach Sr (January 14, 1892 – November 2, 1992). Films, particularly comedies, often climaxed in chase scenes to add to film time. Some inexperienced screenwriter or director, unsure how to get to the climax or the lack of script to meet time requirements, would just make an abrupt transition, known as a cut.

So, sometimes I can be monumentally stupid.

Prone to exaggeration.

Eager to please.

And sometimes I can be all three of these things at once and get myself into quite a lot of trouble.

Which is exactly what I did yesterday.

I got an email from someone that's working with me on my novel. I'm supposed to be finished concept and cutting edits by April. (The whole novel, when finished, was over 170,000 words. Apparently I used to have a really huge problem with bloat. Not something that's happening as much anymore with my deep sea diving into the realm of shorter works...) R. tells me that I need to cut well over 50,000 words and probably 75,000 would be great!

Yesterday, I got an email in my box, "Hey girl, how are those edits going?"

Me, blithely, having taken notes on ALL chapters and actually followed up on those notes with full concept edits, but probably not cutting edits on 6 chapters... and not really thinking much about it... exaggerate a little.

"I've got it about 1/3 done or so. Ten chapters, or thereabouts. I pretty much trashed the entire Chapter Four. Oh, and Chapter 30. That one's gone, too."

Oh, I am such a freaking liar.

Well, not about Chapter Four. I did take that entire bit of nonsense out. The chapter originally had some purpose, to showcase the Male Protagonist's fighting skills and to keep things in line with the original plot... (my main plot has changed a few times...) But it wasn't fitting in as well any more and it introduced a very memorable, likable character that NEVER CAME BACK AT ALL. I love Dr. Roux more than I can express, but he was really unnecessary. And because he was so colorful, I had several beta readers who were angry and disappointed that he never showed up again. So I took out the whole thing. The party, the duel, the injury, the recovery. All of it. Whack, whack, whack.

"Kill your darlings." -- Stephen King. (A man, I might add, who could use a bit of darling killing himself...)

"Oh, great! I always worry that writers are falling behind. Go ahead and send it on to me, so I can look at it?"

Oh, Fuck Me.

Me, "Sure thing. Give me a bit of time to get it all reformatted and stuff. I'm working in Scrivener... Tomorrow or Friday?"

Soooo... I spent five hours last night busting my ass and getting the edits done that I said I'd done. On the plus side, I really have gone through and taken some comprehensive notes. And these are first draft edits to tighten up the plot, cut out the excess wording, and trying to make sure stuff is internally consistent throughout. I fully expect that I'll have to go through again and make more word-cuts. In fact I'm pretty sure of at least three chapters in the next 1/3 that can go, entirely.

Because I can skip all the exposition and cut straight to the chase.


No comments:

Post a Comment