How Chuck Wendig’s Advice Saved My Book

So, there was this scene.

It had some good stuff in it–a line of dialogue I liked, a conversation that needs to happen at some point–but the scene, as a whole?  It was awful.  The kind of awful one writes when you’re just too tired to be at the keyboard, and you sink into silly wish-fulfillment.  It read, honestly, like RPG-based fanfic.  Bleah.

Yesterday I opened twitter up and read some of the people I like.   One of them is Chuck Wendig, who, if you don’t know, is a writer, and also writes a lot of profanity-laden, kick-you-in-your-teeth writing advice on his blog.  Yesterday on twitter were a series of posts (link goes to a storify version of them) about daring to change direction.  And, reading them, my brain flash-fired on a new scene and chapter that would make the story better, AND get my protagonist to a place, and a confrontation, I need him to be in that works better than what I had planned.

So this morning I copy and pasted the parts I liked into a folder I keep in my Scrivener project called “Snips.”  The Snips folder is for those bits of prose that work in a scene that otherwise doesn’t, or bits of text I wrote out of sequence and haven’t found a place for yet. Some of the snips will find their way back into the book, some won’t.  Maybe some will find their way into a future book.  We’ll see.  Anyway, I did the copy/paste, and then I took a snapshot (it’s a Scrivener thing) of the project, took a deep breath, and deleted 1,650 words.  Then I whimpered, went to the break point, and started writing.

And damned if it isn’t flowing better than it has in weeks.

Thanks, Chuck.

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About Michael Johnston

Father of a fifth grader, high school English teacher, writer. Forty-six years old and feeling almost every bit of it on some days, and not a bit of it on others. Based in Sacramento, California, USA
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One Response to How Chuck Wendig’s Advice Saved My Book

  1. I found once I started doing a “Deleted Scenes” document it suddenly became SO MUCH EASIER to cut stuff. The other thing that makes it easy? Letting a draft sit. I was doing final edits and I cut stuff that I’d stubbornly been insisting I needed to keep. All that had changed was it had been a year since I’d first finished. But, of course, that applies after the draft is finished. Cutting big chunks while you’re drafting hurts but it sounds like you’re right and the story is better for it. Just keep writing! 🙂

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