Thursday, May 8, 2008

Clean Drawers! by DL Larson

No, not those kind of drawers, the drawers in my old dresser. In fact that old, old piece of furniture has been moved to the basement and in my bedroom stands a new bureau for my husband and a many-drawered dresser for me. I now have more drawers than I've ever had before. Wait, let me re-phrase that!

And how does clean drawers relate to writing, you ask? Many ways, actually. As I take from the old drawer, I pick and chose what is worthy to go into the new one. Just as many of us do, I made three piles: keep, throw-away, and hmmm, don't know what to do with this. I find myself deleting wonderful sentences in my manuscripts simply because they aren't right for that particular paragraph. Others I circle, wondering what has caught my attention. Is it out of place? Simply needs rewording? Or is it necessary at all? And as I go through a chapter the circles add up and I have to make a decision. Does the reader need this information? Does it move the story in the right direction? Is it a red herring? Or do I just like the way it's worded? Big decisions with only one answer. Do I keep it or delete it?

Now we've all tried stuffing a piece of clothing into a place it doesn't belong. We do the same with our pretty sentences. We love certain wording and don't want to let it go. Squeezing a wonderful phrase into another place may work on occasion, but don't get in the habit of doing that. Later, when you go back and reread it, sometimes it fits beautifully and we're so glad we made the decision to keep it, display it in a worthy place. Then, then, comes those other times when it sticks out, waving like a drooping hem of a skirt. Not quite so pretty now. But dog gone it, we like that phrase, those beautifully put together words. We want to keep them.

Sacrifices have to be made. Just like my don't know what to do with this pile on the floor before my new dresser, some things have to go to the great graveyard of pretty words. A clean cut is the best for everyone. Don't leave it dangling, thinking you'll fix it later. Think of your story line and what is best for it. Keep it concise, no unnecessary words. Don't crowd your story with excess descriptions. Everything needs to fit easily, just as the clothes in my new dresser fit without being over-crowded. I can see what I have.

So as I place my excess clothing into a bag for Good Will, I've de-cluttered one part of my life. It makes me want to de-clutter some more. Hmmm, where should I start? I'm pretty tired of the drawer thing, guess I'll get a red pen and dig through my manuscript for excessive words. It's like losing weight without running and sweating. But it is work, good, intense concentration on what to keep and what to throw away.

And just like a good work out, or having cleaned drawers, it feels good when it's done.

Til next time ~

DL Larson

No comments: