Often when a novice writer sets out to write their first novel they’re filled with an overwhelming amount of ideas. Regardless of where and when a story is set, the writer is building a world with rules specific to the story. They’re building new characters and exploring themes and topics by the score.
During this creation process a writer may not realize they’re just getting warmed up. The story’s real beginning is hidden, the overall theme is a diamond in the rough, and don’t even begin to think about foreshadowing. Many of these aspects you won’t see until you have the whole picture in front of you in the form of a first draft.
What many new writers end up with is a first draft full of backstory and explanation. They’re so focused on making the reader see all the underlying symbolism and accounting for every little action the draft becomes a thousand pages of notes when read by an outsider.
Experienced writers/authors aren’t immune to this either. Wendi and I have gone off on many a tangent during the first draft discovery process with the Saga and the new Tau’s Pride series. Our focus wanders, we get tangled up in all sorts of scenes and possibilities between our characters. The only way we know if they’ll work is to write them out. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t—but they were sure fun to do!
The trick is to put the first draft on the shelf for a week or two, maybe a month, then going back into it with an editor’s eye. At the very heart of it all is this: If a chapter or scene doesn’t advance the story, into the cutting room floor (CRF) file it goes.
This is the true meaning of “killing your darlings”. I guarantee you, you’ll have bits and pieces you love so much you don’t want to let them go. We have over a thousand pages of stuff like this in our CRF file, all of it fodder for future stories…or not. That’s the beauty of a CRF, nothing is ever lost or wasted.
What if you can’t decide? What if everything looks great to you and you think it should stay? That’s when you call us and get into our Manuscript Mentoring program. An extra set of eyes always helps. Click on the link above for more information or contact us for a free consultation today.