Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Sacrifices

When you're editing a book or story - I mean, REALLY editing - cutting whole scenes or changing character traits or moving scenes around - the decision-making can feel overwhelming. Because one single decision you make, with a character or scene or plot, has ripple effects. It can change the entire rest of the story, so each decision has to be made carefully. And almost always, something has to be sacrificed.

Here's my example: In the novel I'm currently editing, the male and female leads are old college friends who meet up 5 years later. Well, for reasons too long to explain here, I've decided that it would be better if they didn't have a history with each other at all -- that instead, their friendship starts fresh, developing in front of the reader's eyes.

When I made this change, I realized a few things were sacrificed, but the biggest one? Their comfortable history together was gone. So, I had to re-work the entire beginning of their relationship. As well, the original way they got reacquainted had contained a "bead" (symbol) that I'd integrated into the end of the story, to create a full circle, a connection. Well, with these new changes, that bead vanished. It had to be sacrificed. So, I have to brainstorm another bead instead.

I think, in the end, it will be worth it - and that's the main point, really. You have to weigh everything as you make your decision. Ask yourself whether the sacrifices are worth it in the end. If they are, you'll know you're doing the right thing. Of course, if they're not worth it, you might need to re-think it. Again.

Sacrificing ANY plot, character, or even dialogue can be so tough. But the bottom line is always this: if the sacrifices are made for the greater good of the novel, it's always the right decision.

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