NaNo and Accompanying Revelations

There’s three days left in NaNoWriMo, and I am completely confident I will reach the 50k mark.

However, I’m also completely sure that close to half of what I’ve written will hit the metaphorical cutting room floor. There’s far too much fat covering the meat.

Fat equals flavor and savor but too much just results in a huge greasy mess that rapidly becomes indigestible. For example, I’ve got a scene that’s taking Feyd and Damien to Aurelia’s house, then to the slave pits. There’s a lot of sloppy exposition that I shoved into that scene, because the ideas were coming hard and fast that day.

It needs to be trimmed, rendered, simmered to its essence. Maybe some details can be worked in later, maybe some things will just have to be let go. Maybe I can take 2000 words down to about 1200, maybe even down to a thousand. I need to find the bones and bring them forward.

I’ve said that Diana Gabaldon is one of my influences, because I love the intense sense of place she creates- it feels like I am standing inside the heroine’s head and I could turn around and see exactly what she is seeing/smelling/tasting/feeling.

However, some of the only criticisms I hear of her work is that sometimes she is TOO detailed and loses track of the plot for a short time. This is something I’ve also encountered in James Michener’s works. Therefore, it’s something I try to be mindful of, and rectify when I catch myself trending in that direction.

There’s a term for this- it’s called “killing your darlings”. There are some descriptions I am damn proud of, but if they have to go, they have to go. I know I have a tendency to overuse certain words, and I’m a bit too fond of adverbs.

However, knowing this, I now know where to find the hidden pockets of fat. It’s a start, at least, towards going from a primal cut to the beautiful roast on the groaning board.

Where will you look to trim the fat in your work?

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3 Responses to NaNo and Accompanying Revelations

  1. ladyimbrium says:

    I’m also over-fond of adverbs. Since I’m not looking to publish anything, I use them anyway. Sometimes things that are awkward in my essays and poems simply get tossed out on their ear and I start over.

  2. Steve Tanner says:

    A well turned phrase is a terrible thing to waste! Sometimes a single phrase can be the inspiration for a piece, but as I refine the work, the original inspiration needs to be dropped. It seems so ironic when I encounter this rare situation. Nevertheless, while I do not look to be published either, I do aspire to NOT write like James Fenimore Cooper.

    In all fairness, I was taught that Cooper was paid by the word. However, “The Last of the Mohicans” is one of those rare cases where the [1992] film was better than the book. Apparently, rumors about “short attention spans” where not prevalent a couple of centuries ago. All evidence so far indicates that you are in no danger of being another Cooper.

    • scoutlady13 says:

      My inspirational line is by Ian Fleming via Douglas Adams. Paraphrased, it is thus: “Don’t write to be literary; write to be literate.” I strive to be literate. Literary is something that history will decide for me, preferably after a long and gloriously prolific career. Thank you for taking the time to comment – I hope to see you here again soon.

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