Interior Design for Writers
I am a big advocate of just starting to write and then writing until you’re done before turning to editing. The challenge then becomes
figuring out what should stay and what should go. Sometimes it’s clear, that funny story about burning the pot roast doesn’t mesh with the home improvement tales of woe, or that chapter on the trip to Italy is just a distraction.
But how can you be sure something should be cut? What if you are hesitant because you are sentimentally attached to it?
Think of your article or the book as a room you need to decorate. You decide the tone and feel of the room and then you choose the colors, furniture and paraphernalia to match. Everything should go together. The things that don’t will stick out and detract from the rest. This doesn’t mean that everything has to be the same or that you can’t have an eclectic collection. But you need to think carefully about how it all blends together.
As you evaluate what you’ve written, ask yourself: Why is this important? How does it move the story along? How does it fit in with everything else? Does it match the tone and voice of the rest of the piece?
If it doesn’t add to the story or move it along somehow, you risk confusing or worse, losing your reader.
But just because something initially doesn’t seem to fit doesn’t mean you have to get rid of it entirely. Suppose you have an elegant living room and you want to put up your five year old’s drawing. Clearly it would look out of place if you just thumbtacked it over the mantle. But put it in a fancy gilded frame and it could be an attractive focal point. Or maybe it’s the starting point for decorating the play room.
The point is, if there is a section, chapter or character that you really like or that you don’t want to send to the trash bin, figure out how to use it in a way that will make sense and augment what you are doing, or maybe it’s the starting point for a different article or book.
If you have are struggling to figure out what to do with a section or not sure if something fits, give us a call.