Thursday, August 28, 2008

Moving forward vs looping back

I have not posted the updated word count to the margin of this blog because the little meter would be moving in the wrong direction. My progress has been in deleting unnecessary copy rather than generating new words. For the most part, anyway.

I was worried this would happen.

After Bread Loaf, I realized that my whole first section is replete with fat. Too many descriptors, too much explaining, too much boring backstory.


I've axed the lion's share, and then gone back into it, like a surgeon replacing valves. I've had to rebuild the heart of this sucker. Set more pages in scene. Trust the reader, as Lynn Freed kept admonishing. Sink it!

So sink it, I have. Gone are three pages of Fifi's ruminations on art. Her long description of courting her husband. A page-and-a-half detailing the landscape of the Block Island Sound.

In their places are minimalist scenes and scant sections of dialogue. More action.

Finally, just today, I positioned my cursor at the bottom of page 128 and began to create new material. I'm in Dorothy Dick's kitchen, all her children and their significant others about, while she's stirring up some homemade eggnog. The kitchen is filthy, the scene, chaotic. I'm happy to be back in the mess of it all.


  1. Lovey,
    This is the most painful - and liberating -- part of writing. I once read, was it Annie Dillard?, that we write all this stuff to act as a runway from which our story can take off. The key is to tear up the runway afterward b/c its job is finished!
    Wallow in that mess, girl.
    Eve the Roommate

  2. Anonymous10:39 AM

    Dear Suzy,

    I was told at Bread Loaf to get rid Chapter 1 and merge the background with Chapter 2, which isn't as easy as it sounds, and I've been struggling with it. It must be a standard observation in workshops because Margo Rabb did a reading about it. I just wanted to let you know I feel your pain.

    I wanted to let you know that I love your observations on Bread Loaf. As you know, I disovered your great website before I met you.

    How do you get that manuscript meter going on your site? That's cool.

    Best wishes for your writing,

    Susan A


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