Yesterday I initiated a discussion on downsizing. As tends to be the case with me, here is how it applies to my favorite creative outlet:
So how does downsizing connect to writing? When I first started writing and attended my first critique groups, one of the first things I learned was that each and every word in a manuscript needs to serve a purpose. Downsizing equals editing and effective editing leads to strong, bring-that-manuscript-to-a-new-level status. Example: it’s not enough to describe or mention the incredible sun set. Its blood-red glow needs to reflect someone’s mood or indicate an upcoming event. By the same token, the heroine’s hoop earrings are crafted from her and her deceased husband’s wedding bands so that she can wear both at all times. Not only do I get a picture of the character, I get insight into who she is and backstory. (And once I tie this into a dialogue between my lead characters, my text has done that much more multi-tasking.)
Am I making sense? Like most of the necessities the man in that tiny cabin makes use of (or my farmhouse table at the cottage that serves as my counter) words need to do double duty. If they don’t, chances are you may not need them.
What about the dreaded letting go of a scene or—eek!—an entire character’s POV? That can feel like cutting off a limb! I mean, here I am with this fabulous story—they’re all incredible to the creator, aren’t they?— so how can I edit that???? And horror of horrors, shelve an entire story? (No way I’d ever delete that much work. It can sit in virtual space where it won’t bother anyone.) Yet, when I get over myself and make the requested or necessary changes I can see the story shine through the clutter I removed. (Sigh. I’m truly working on practicing what I preach given a recent rejection due—in part—to “too many characters in a manuscript’s opening” that could “potentially overwhelm the reader.” Guess I need to get back in there and hack away. There’s that perseverance part, right Stacey?)
So that’s where I am today, cleaning up my act physically, mentally and on virtual paper. For now, I gave up on the filing that’s been sitting on my desk since June. I do, however, have hope. (Dancing with the Stars is has at least six weeks to go–at least one or two of those evenings can be multi-tasked to getting all those papers in their place, right?
Care to share how you keep everything in check? All ideas welcome here!
A wonderful week to all,