Monday, April 30, 2012

A to Z Challenge: ZzzzzzZzzzzz

And.... We've reached Z! Congrats, lovelies!

Credit

Steven King wrote in his epically awesome book On Writing that you should aim to take at least a tenth (or something like that) out of your story when you edit. While I'm more of an editing adder, I see the reason behind his words. That 10% of what we wrote are all the boring bits.

The things that our readers will skip in order to stay awake for the rest of the story. The bits that add no value to the story.

They all have to go. Every. Single. One.

Getting rid of some of those scenes really hurt, sometimes. Some of them might even be favorites. But if they don't add to the story and if they're just boring, they have to go.

My rule of thumb when it comes to getting rid of boring scenes:

If they're more than 70% boring, you have to get rid of them, redistributing the 30% so that they have meaning in the story. If they're 50-70% boring, you need to cut out the bits that make the scene boring.

Once your work is zzzzz-free, you'll see most of your pacing issues disappearing. As will a lot of sagging middle problems. AND! Your story will be more exciting.

Win-win, right?

Look Out for These:


1) Crit partners of betas pointing out boring parts.

2) Any parts that were dealt with earliers and that reveal nothing new that's of importance.

3) Any parts that don't fulfill a valuable function in the story. You don't have to get rid of all of them, but if the read is stalling, you might want to cut out a few of these.

How do you spot boring bits that have to go?

14 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'm probably one of the few writers who has to go back and add! I write such bare bones, it desperately needs more.

Sara said...

I'm not sure I've made it to the editing out the boring bits yet, I'm still working on hammering my meandering draft into a plot, once it has a plot I can edit out the boring. Although I can laugh at the absurdisim(I'm claiming that as a word I made up) of that statement.

Doreen said...

My first instruction from my editor was remove every "very" and "really"..there were a lot..

Michael Offutt, Tebow Cult Initiate said...

I'm trying to cut stuff...really I am. But as you say, "It's hard."

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I'm all over the place. I have to usually cut large chunks here and build up there. By the time I'm finished, I don't recognize my novel. :D

Donna said...

Good suggestion. When I cut the boring parts or the not so great parts of my writing, I will still keep them in a draft pieces pile, in case I want to use them again some day. It's kind of like a pile of fabric scraps then. You may use them again some day in a different way. And it makes you not feel so bad about tearing it out of the current piece.

Lauren S. said...

Yes! Great advice. The last thing you want to do is bore your readers. I have a lot of "Zzzz" worthy bits in my own writing - especially entrances and exits that can be cut out.

Traci Kenworth said...

I rely on my beta readers for these moments. You're right, a scene may be a favorite but has to go so that the others can shine through.

Rachna Chhabria said...

I am the type who writes so much that when I start editing plenty more likely 35% and not just 10% needs to be chopped :(

Rosalind Adam said...

I try to do that with my blog posts too and I'm always happier with the shortened version.
Well done for completing the A to Z. Haven't we done well!

Cheryl Klarich said...

Excellent advice! Love this ZZZZ post. I wish I could borrow it!! :)

Haddock said...

It is something that will have to be done (chopping) but the sad fact is that it took a long time to write that :-)

Bethie said...

I get someone else to look at my writing. It they're falling asleep reading it I know I have some editing to do! I find critique partners to be invaluable.

Book Publishing said...

Nice advice share here,
Thanks Misha to share this wonderful advice.