Just a bit of something here, and a bit of something there

From the 1964 Disney film Mary Poppins

Mary Poppins taught me about editing as a child.  When the children point out that Bert left out the road to the fair, he whips out his chalk and fixes his picture.

From the 1964 Disney film Mary Poppins

“There, suitable for travel and high adventure.”

I’ve heard from several writers that their first draft tends to have too much information or description and they struggle to figure out what to cut.  Then there are writers like me, whose first drafts seem to lack something.  Eventually, I learned to go back in and “draw the road.”   I thread through bits of story or description.  Highlights and lowlights, to make the story deeper and richer.

It can be done with themes.  For instance, after you’ve written a story that unexpectedly climaxes on a boat.  You may want to have your main characters respond to maritime images or situations throughout the book.  Lightly.  A sentence here.  A sentence there.   The result is a story with a deeper meaning.

It can also be done with back story.  At the end of your rough draft you realize something in the heroine’s history plays a part in how she reacts to the dark moment.  So, you go back, strategically including little bits of her back story.  That way, when the dark moment comes, the reader can anticipate the heroine’s behavior.

Remember, even as you trim the unneeded bits.  Adding to manuscripts can ratchet up tension, weave deeper description, and develop dynamic characters.

~ ~ ~

Kristine Overbrook’s novel Creatures of the Moon is forthcoming from Crimson Romance.

Find her at her blog www.kristineoverbrook.com.

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10 Comments

  1. In first edits for a novella I have coming out in November, I added an imaginary playmate for my witchcraft avoiding heroine. And this addition is vital to the start of book #2.

    • Congratulations on your release!
      So, you know exactly what I mean. What an interesting addition. I’m curious and can’t wait to read it.

  2. Lovely post! I really like your analogy.

  3. Nice post! Like you, my first draft is a bare bones. My second draft is where I put the meat onto it.

    • Thanks. It’s always nice to know we’re not alone in the way we write. Most of the people I talk to focus on what to cut.

  4. Great suggestions, Kristine! I’m one who adds in as I edit because those pesky emotional responses don’t always make it into the first draft…

  5. Great ideas Kristine. I usually do find ways to go deeper when I dive back into my story.

  6. Kristine,

    Wonderful post! Love your thoughts on threads. I love symbolism, motifs, irony, and metaphors. They can be very powerful!

    All the Best,
    Rionna Morgan


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