I forgot to post Wednesday. Bad blogger.

Anyway, my job was the weekly writer’s block, and the more I thought about it, the more one question stood out to me:

“What is important?”

As vital as that question undeniably is during our daily lives, I find that it is equally(ish) as important in writing.

There are many “keys” to a good story. I only know like, four of them. One oCharacters characters. Don’t write terrible ones. Plots. No holes, if you can help it. Something…else….

Anyway, the one now is simply this: focus on the important. Do I really need to hear about the hero’s last three weeks at university where absolutely zero happens and it takes up six chapters before the story even starts? 

No, I say bitterly as six months of writing are ripped from my novel. Were they great chapters? Um, yes. I may or may not have cried actual tears cutting them. But they did nothing for the story. They are backstory that I will always know, but my readers won’t because, frankly, it doesn’t matter. One of my biggest pet peeves when I read is to realize that I am ten chapters in and I don’t know what the book Is about, because all the author is giving me is really great information, but no actual content.

Don’t get me wrong, subplots and backstory can be amazing devices. So are Red Herrings and flashbacks and dream sequences. But a novel is not written on these alone. Fun details are fun, but the story is where the beauty lies. 

So write your story, sprinkle in the extraneous here and there, but use a light touch.

Unless you’re George R.R. Martin, who I’m convinced is not so much writing one series as much as forty-two and a half.


One thought on “Extraneous Block

  1. You’re talking about murdering your darlings aren’t you ? Those lovingly crafted pieces which you are so proud of. Of course, they have to go. The ideal piece of writing is one where you cannot add a word to, or subtract a word from. Every word is paying its way. And fiction has to be lean and mean.

    What about Dickens, though ? He managed to write great 800page blockbusters where every character has a backstory as long as your arm. And yet he manages to keep the pace up. Maybe that’s why he was a genius.
    Murdering your darlings applies to poetry too. The other day I got rid of five lines of something I’d been working on for a week. Those five lines took three days.
    I could have wept.


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