Digital photography enables people to crop photos using photo editing software.  The photographer will look at a photo, decide which part of the photo they’d like to display and cut the rest.  Certainly, I do.  All the time.

I think cropping can be applied to story telling.  Often, writers will have more than one central idea.  A combination of story ideas may work well in some novels, but not in others.  It may leave readers asking, whose story?

For a long time, my second novel, a psychological thriller, focused on two protagonists, but this led to clutter and confusion in places, and I had to decide to crop the novel and choose only one protagonist, developing the story along a single route. This meant eradicating large section of the former story.  Basically, it meant rewriting much of it and using only one plotline.  However, cutting most of the material has resulted in many new scenes and opportunities to take the story further. 

Early days, but I’m enjoying the process.


6 thoughts on “Novel Writing: Cropping The Story

  1. There seem to be two ways of looking at “cropping”. Either it is a way to narrow the focus and show (whether it is through a photo or a story) a directed image, said image being manipulated by the photographer/writer. Or, removing valuable information that may enhance.

    I think about the arguments people have regarding widescreen movies versus those formatted for television. It seems to be the same argument here although I don’t believe there is any “correct” answer.

    The question is: do you find it to be helping you on this psychological thriller?

  2. interesting comparison, Lawrence.
    I too did the same thing you describe here….it’s all a learning process. I realized that knowing about all characters to the same degree as my mc is very important even for those secondary ones.

  3. Hi tikiman, thanks for your comment.

    Yes, I think the cropping has helped me set out a different story that matches the bleak Northern scenery and captures the essence of the 80’s recession (back story). It’s been challenging, for sure, but I feel I have a story now rather than the rambling that was there before. Certainly scary and disturbing and bleak, and not really what I originally intended when I started writing some years back.

    Hope all is well with your writing,


  4. Hi Jennifer, very interesting. I recently heard that the Impact Character (antagonist) needs the most development, even more than the protagonist (and even if the IC doesn’t have a viewpoint).

    Best wishes with your writing,


  5. Thanks again, Jennifer.

    I dowloaded a demo version of a novel writing package recently, and although it wouldn’t allow me to save or print out my ideas, it gave some incredible feedback through questions, including the need to develop the IC the most.

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