“Every work of art should contain whatever it needs to fulfil its descriptive objective but nothing more. Look at the ‘leftover’ parts of every composition. Successful images have no dead spaces or inactive parts. Look at your compositions holistically and make sure that every element advances the purposes of the whole.”
Excerpt from ‘101 Things to Learn in Art School’ by Kit White
If you don’t know, stop and consider.
If you do know and it is taking the story in a different direction, you don’t necessarily have to stop, just be aware of what you are doing. There is an argument that says continue writing, that the diversion may be better than the original idea, that the diversion may turn into book two, or a completely different novel unrelated to the first.
It is too easy to focus on the blank page, one page at a time, and not consider the overall shape of the book, the highs and lows, the build-up of tension towards the end. Editing is as much a part of the writing process as creating characters, witty prose, and planning plot twists. Draft one, draft two… it may not be until draft 22, when your novel is tighter and shorter, that you pen the best opening paragraph.
The editing process is about cutting out the parts which don’t ‘advance the purposes of the whole,’ as Kit White says. But don’t delete them, squirrel them away. They may be the trigger to something completely different.
‘101 Things to Learn in Art School’ by Kit White [MIT Press] Buy now
And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Eliminate the non-essential: applying the rules of #art to #writing via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-NY