cut it out

Cut It Out

Yeah, three things about this little piece of advice from Joss Whedon.

1. Whedon is an impeccable writer. He consistently delivers compelling stories involving complex, real characters. In other words, if he suggests that something might be helpful when it comes to your own stories, he’s worth listening to.

2. His advice above is painful. Agonizingly so. If you’ve been writing for very long, you’ve either refused to do what he suggests, in which case your writing has suffered for it, or you’ve already experienced the pain of losing that perfect line. That character you really, really liked. That plot twist you wanted so badly to introduce, even though it messed with the continuity of the rest of the story.

If I’ve learned anything in my time writing (and note, I’m not claiming I’ve learned it all. Hardly. But maybe few things…), I’ve learned that the story has a will of its own. At least, my stories do. When I surrender to the story’s will and allow it to tell itself through me, the results are always better than if I dig in my heels and insist that I will not change this or that. I know that sounds kind of weird, the idea of the story speaking through me as if it’s a thing in its own right, but I think it is. My job is to help it onto the page, not jam it into some square-shaped hole I think it should fill when it’s clearly a circle.

3. When we’re stuck, more often then not, we got ourselves stuck. We’ve latched on to something–something we like so much we say stupid things like, “Well, I’m not changing that!” Listen, if the strength of your entire story hinges on a single element, it ain’t all that strong. And if you’re stuck, taking out the piece you’re most in love with may well unstick you.

Worst case scenario, you can always put that piece back in.

So when you find yourself flailing, failing to find words, and brought to an abrupt and uncomfortable halt in your story, try cutting out the thing you like most about it. See what rises up to take its place. More often than not, that act alone will propel the story on, taking it to newer, braver, more interesting places than you could have possibly imagined before.

About these ads

About dex
Dex Raven writes dark fantasy and horror. He has a thing for classic monster legends, Egyptian and Nordic mythology, coffee and sarcasm. He is currently working on three books. You can read the in-progress first draft of one of his novels at ravenspeak.wordpress.com.

6 Responses to cut it out

  1. YES. Great (albeit painful) advice.

    Like this

  2. We all need a kick in the ass at some point or another, and what better way than to have to give up our hard-earned, ache-induced words…?!

    And no, it does not sound weird to say the story is told through you, not by you…you’re a writer!

    Like this

  3. tristdagon says:

    Wonderful advise, I actually sat up all night trying this on things I’ve written in the past. Just to see what would happen. Perhaps some projects I gave up on may not be lost causes after all.

    Like this

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 82 other followers

%d bloggers like this: