01 July 2009

Starting a Story Too Early

Remember, just because you write a scene does not mean the scene belongs in your story. 

We often write twice as many scenes as will ultimately end up in the finished novel, memoir, short story, screenplay. 

Still, every single word and line and scene you write is invaluable to you as a writer because in writing, you:
  • Expand your writing skills
  • Deepen your writer's voice
And most of all, the more scenes you write, the more you learn about: 
  • The characters in your story
No writing you do is a waste of time. Quite the opposite. However, what separates a good writer from a truly great writer is the ability to assess what stays in and, more, what needs to be cut. 

The Scene Tracker is one way to help writers decide whether a scene is working hard enough to warrant staying in the piece and it gives clues as to how to expand weak scenes and make all your scenes truly great. 

Whatever method you use to help you determine what stays in your manuscript and what needs to be cut, do not worry about this in the first couple of drafts. 

The #1 defining skill needed to ultimately finish a story is the ability to write the story all the way through to the end. Yeah, I hear you -- duh. But, you might be surprised to learn how many "want-to-be" writers never accomplish that. They never finish even a first -- what I call "vomit-on-the-page" -- draft, much less the finished, polished draft. That is why I call them "want-to-be" writers. Before you can truly call yourself a writer, you have to finish what you start. I cringe writing that because I can hear the objections. In this blog, I speak to writers who hold the dream of one day being published. 

First, finish one draft all the way through. Even write a couple of drafts. After that and before writing more, begin evaluating:
  • What works in your story?
  • What does not work?
  • Why?
  • What to do about that which does not contribute to the whole = cut or expand?