There is just SO MUCH THAT NEEDS TO HAPPEN.
I’ve never written fantasy before, I’ve never written political intrigue, I’ve never written a story where the fate of a world hangs in the balance. The two completed novels I’ve written have had high stakes, to be sure, but those stories were always about the protagonists in their small corners of the world. If one of them didn’t succeed, the world would not end. (Just their own lives.)
Writing a bigger story is exciting, to be sure, but it also brings with it a new set of writerly problems to deal with. And several times I’ve wondered whether or not I’m up to the task.
I’m getting through it the way I always get through writing problems: by taking my own advice, continuing to work at it, and by reading good books similar to the one I want to write. But I’m constantly having to tell myself to stop getting overwhelmed by my own story. I’m at fifty thousand words and barely at the first turning point. Either this first book is going to have to be split into three, or I’m going to have some major editing to do.
I think it’s going to be the former. And then, how do I decide which scenes to keep and which to cut?
I’m saving the editing for the second draft–which is a good best practice–and when I do, I’m going to keep in mind this advice from legendary director Howard Hawks. He said a “good movie” is simply this:
“Three great scenes, no bad ones.”
I think the same mantra can be applied to a book. (A story is a story, after all.)
So simple. So brilliant. So going to be the mantra running through my head when I have to trim down this massive draft into something readable.
Do you do this in your own writing? Has it worked?