As I work on my NaNo novel I am beginning to realize something I have a problem with. Something that sneaks its way into my writing, usually when I don’t know what’s going to happen next or when I am writing really fast (a la NaNo).
Mundane, boring scenes that have no true purpose. I just wrote a scene where the heroine is at her place of work. It’s short and… boring. They discuss plans for the evening and the only purpose of the interaction is to introduce her family and show their dynamic. Surely this can be done elsewhere, in a scene that actually has some kind of stake or purpose.
Usually, almost immediately upon finishing the boring scene I’ll know that the information could just as easily be introduced somewhere else, in a scene that’s more important.
Still, it’s taken me a while in my writing journey to realize that every scene needs to have a stake to it, a point of change, an inciting event. And even longer to then be able to go back and delete the one thousand words I just wrote.
David Sedaris was on the Daily Show the other day and he was talking about a book he had just written and said that he’d planned to write twenty-five stories, but only have fifteen of them make it to the book. I think this concept is one of the hardest for writers to embrace, but once you do your book gets better: not everything you write should make it to the book.
Deleting words is hard, it seems like throwing hard work down the toilet, but for writing–it’s necessary.
This is why I take issue with anyone who says NaNo is “bad” because you’re encouraged to write crap. All writers should realize, a lot of what you’re going to write is crap. A good writer can fix it, delete it, revise it–whatever. You can not partake in NaNo because it doesn’t suit your process, but don’t go disparaging those who use it as part of theirs.