Monday, September 30, 2019

Cut & Paste

“I believe more in the scissors than I do in the pencil.”   -- Truman Capote

Sometimes I miss my scissors. 

When I first started writing, part of my revision process involved cutting up parts of my manuscript. I'd lay the pieces out on the dining room table and rearrange them.  The scene where the guy is preparing two plants for breeding, for example, has to go after the explanation of why he's doing it, and a little history of plant breeding should go before that. Then I'd clip all the strips of paper together and go back to the keyboard. 

I know there is the cut and past function on the computer, but that isn't as satisfying as physically cutting the paper, seeing all the parts, not just half a page at a time.  And there's always that annoying glitch when the computer cuts more than you want, or pastes it in a weird place (maybe it's just my computer).

But I think Capote is referring to the idea of brevity and clarity -- using just the right word rather than a string of near misses. This is when you have to "kill your darlings," find your focus, and ask yourself, "What am I really trying to say?"  

It's only when you can answer that question that you can put your scissors away. 

Right now, on my current project, I'll keep the scissors handy. 

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