Cutting to the Bone

Kill For Me

You won't feel a thing. (Photo credit: Charlie Barker*)

Dear line I just cut,

Damn, you were good. Like, really good. You made me feel brilliant. I could read you and feel that little warm cozy glow of accomplishment. Good structure, good words, good thought. You were witty and concise. That’s hard to do. Trust me, I should know.  I try to do that all the time and my record is…well, let’s say I’m still trying. But you…you shone out of that paragraph like a little beacon of cleverness.

But that’s the problem. You didn’t fit. You just sat there, making your point, even when the reasons behind the scene changed. And then…well, you weren’t so clever any more. But you were still good. Really good. Just…not for this.

I could soften the blow here, and say that it’s me and not you, but let’s not lie to each other: it’s you. The first time I wrote that scene, I had something else in mind. Now that the story’s changed, you don’t work any more.

Worse, you draw attention to yourself. You make that paragraph about me, and not the story. “Oh, look,” you seem to say, “Here is definable proof that this writer is a clever person. Isn’t she great?” And, you know, thanks for that. Really. But the reader should be concentrating on the characters, not me. I should be fucking invisible. So can you stop pulling back the damn curtain and shining a big spotlight on me?

I will say, though, that it’s not entirely your fault. I never should have let it get this far. All the way to the final draft…when really you should have been cut after the first. I knew it then. But I ignored it, hoping the problem would go away. I can work it in, I told myself. I just need to fix the scene. Or move it to another scene! Yes, that will work. I was getting desperate by then. I just liked reading you so much. You made me feel good, even if you did nothing for the story.

But this has gone on long enough. “Kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart,” says Stephen King, and that’s good advice. I’ve written and rewritten and, honestly, I’m sick of trying to find a place for you. It’s not working out. It’s time to go.

Now close your eyes. I’ll try to make it quick.

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9 thoughts on “Cutting to the Bone

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