Adventures in Editing: The Cutting Board

It’s an essential writer’s tool, though one I don’t use as often as most. In the great plotter (people who plan out their stories) vs pantser (People who just make their stories up as they go), I’m a plantser.

Studying plots and storytelling means that I tend to think in more general terms when drafting. So, when I’m getting an idea together my process is more, “Okay, this is a romance/Macguffin retrevial/rescue. I have to hit points A, B, and C for it to be that story.” and less of an outline. And once I know what my story is, I let my characters loose to do their thing.

Because I know the type of story, as opposed to the plot, I tend to add things that I don’t know that I need until the ending. “Oh! That’s why I needed to go there. They need person X to do thing Y.”

Did I say Person X just to use an x-men picture? The world may never know.

Mostly, I actually end up adding to my stories. Cleaning up scenes as opposed to cutting them, and filling in plot holes.

There we go. No one will ever know I skipped that plot point entirely the first draft through.

Occasionally though, I misstep. I add in something that feels right, but ultimately slows down the story. Or I might have thought I was telling a chase, but oh wait, it works better as a quest, so certain actions in the beginning don’t work anymore.

Which brings us back to the cutting board, and yesterday’s post about endings. I have a subplot that I literally decided to add on whim. It felt right at the time, but now it’s part of that drag ass ending.

What? Were you expecting a different picture for ‘drag ass’?

My first instinct to just hack it off. Like the fat on a steak, sometimes you have to cut it off for a better meal. My husband is advocating this as well. He often advocates for the cutting board. Subplots, characters, whatever, hack it off!

This man is my husband’s hero. KILL THEM ALL!!!

Another beta thinks trimming would work better. And again, like that steak, a little fat isn’t a bad thing. Her feeling is that I’d be taking too much meat off with that fat.

mmmm…. steak

So what to do?

I’m going to really look at the fat. See what I can get rid of. If I can’t get the ending up to speed by Friday, we’ll have have to sharpen the cleaver, and get out the big cutting board.

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