I’m at the 50,000 word stage of my second novel again, a psychological thriller set in the English countryside.  This time, I’m focusing on clarity rather than a restructuring of the narrative events, a sort of trimming away at the plot.   A bit like a brief haircut to keep things neat.   As I stated in another post, when you start cutting material, you risk losing something of the true nature of the story.  Too much cutting might – to use a cliché – “kill the spirit.”

When deciding whether to remove sections or characters, ask yourself a few questions first….”do I really need the section?”…”could the story survive without it?”….”does the idea or character add intrigue to the plot or does it complicate matters?”   I once read that a character must have a clear function in a story.  

Still, I think writers shouldn’t be too hasty in deleting material.  At the very least, they should place all the cut sections in a separate file and keep backups.


7 thoughts on “Trimming The Plot

  1. Are you a hair stylist in disguise, Lawrence? LOL
    I have a few characters that i think should have come out, not beacuse I didn’t like them, but because I thought they had no real purpose and fuddled thing. But all my readers have told me NO. they said they gave insight to the MCs in their interactions with them. Haste certainly is the enemy!

  2. Taking your time, that’s the key. I really like how you’re going through your novel and demonstrating how writers must constantly edit their own work.

  3. Thanks for the responses. No, I’m not a hair stylist in disguise, though I wish I were. I used to dye it and play around with different styles all the time.

    Hope your writing is going well, Teresa.

    You bring up an interesting point about characters that appear not to have a function, jenni. And I think this is tied in with editing….when you work on a draft, the scenes and characters run to some type of logical order…if a scene or character is removed, then the underlying logic is questioned and the story might develop new problems to do with structure. I’ve found this so many times.

  4. Hi! I got your comment on your book’s publishing. Thanks for visiting the site, bdw.

    Many people have actually gone the mainstream route and not everyone was happy with the outcome. Some agents just perhaps need a push with letting them consider your book – see, its not even a guarantee when they just CONSIDER it.

    Yes, I’ve worked in the publishing industry and decided to do my book myself and see how it goes. Although there is an investment in your part, at least I know I did my best. I can even supervise the extent of my book’s market since no one is going to tell me what to do. Tell you what, I’ll give you something to peruse while you are at it. Let me know if you have questions. 🙂 I got mine in the mail already and it was enlightening. 🙂

    get your own guide here: http://tinyurl.com/publishingguide


  5. Every time I consider writing a mystery/suspense/thriller and think about the idea of clarity, I ALWAYS come back to Raymond Chadler’s “The Big sleep”. Even Chandler himslef couldn’t account for one of the characters but it is no less a significant and major literary event.
    A thriller is self-explanatory: It thrills. Logic, continuity, and excess characters who add nothing to the “plot”—these are all irrelevant concepts.
    Focus on the mood. If you feel it, so will the reader.

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