Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The core

Last week, I reread my entire manuscript and made some minor changes, about a thousand words worth. Then I took a couple days to really think through the heart of my story and the characters that populate it. The agent and editor both felt I needed to clarify a couple characters, and both asked whether or not two other characters were even needed. The same input from both professionals. Time to act on their feedback.

So I returned to what I planned to be at the core of the story, that all-too-common human trait in the face of injustice: inaction until we're directly affected. This era quote from Martin Neimoller says it well.
In Germany, they came first for the Communists,
And I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist;
And then they came for the trade unionists,
And I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist;
And then they came for the Jews,
And I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew;
And then they came for me .
And by that time there was no one left to speak up.

I tried envisioning that core concept as the core of an apple. I need to surround that core with stuff that grows organically from that core. Apple stuff, not grapefruit.

So yesterday, I spent about 6 hours cutting grapefruit from my story. Forty pages of text, a meandering subplot, and four named characters - outta here. In a few days I'll reread what's left and see if it's an apple. And maybe someday I'll write a story with the grapefruit.


  1. I find those bigger cuts are scary, but once I plunge in and do it, I'm always happier with what I have left. The tighter the plotting & pacing, the tighter the read. :)

  2. Thanks for your input, Angela. As I cut, I feel closer and closer to the bare essence of the story, a less is more kind of thing.