Chasing Tangents

If a scene, character, or even a setting, does nothing to further the story along, then it doesn’t need to be in the book. It is far too easy to get into “developing a character” or “setting the scene” and yet none of it helps the story. Several years ago, I began seeing plot bits as strings. And they had to come together in form the rope that is the novel at some point near or at the end. If a string didn’t tie to that, well, it didn’t need to be there. Tangents can be fun and even educational but if it is a tangent, and not a true plot string, snip it.

In Simple Sarah (the book stuck in perpetual edits since I started in ’04), I killed a character. Not in the ‘had a funeral’ kind of way. I killed her by removing her from the book. I kinda sorta liked the character but it was her horse I liked more. When I realized that, out she went (wow. just realized I wrote that post 3 years ago…).

In The Awakening, I had this family of five. In one version, I had them be all pissy and grumpy and struggling with their new reality. I back tracked a little because this attitude had no basis so I put one in. Didn’t like it. Didn’t know how to end it. So I backed up again and made them all nice and sweet. And that’s when I realized they did nothing to further the story along. There’s enough conflict and tension without them. So, yeah, out they went. One of the characters actually had a good role and I didn’t want to get rid of the role, just the person in it. I spent two days thinking (yeah, smoke was everywhere) and decided who to put there instead. I played a little with that direction and liked it better.

Which is why I am going through the book again but this time, my tangent radar has an upgrade.

1 thought on “Chasing Tangents”

  1. So I just got around to reading this post. Blehhhh I’m ungodly slow. I was at work when you posted it and I just couldn’t get to it so I saved it in my email drafts.

    Five months later I’m going to agree with you whole heartedly. I’m struggling with a story now and I’ve changed the characters directly a multitude of times. The original plot is still hammering to be created but the main character is yet to be agreeing with me.

    Hope it works out soon or it will be one more story plot that I think Steven Spielberg would have loved to produce as a film, but never got to see.

    JLNicky

Comments are closed.