Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Aristarkh Lentulov (1882 - 1943)--Moscow I had a problem with one of my kitchen cabinets for over a week.

The problem was that when I opened the door to the cabinet, Pyrex dishes and Tupperware flung themselves at me. “$%#$#$!!!” I’d say, but would end up stuffing the glassware and plastic back in there with one hand while pulling out whatever it was that I needed.

The next day was a repeat. I’d open the cabinet and, “^#%$R#$#!!!!” once again.

Yes, I had a whole week of getting assaulted by my own cookware. Each day I’d have to stop what I was doing to work around this problem.

Finally I actually got a clue, opened both doors to the cabinet, sat on the floor, and looked at the problem critically. Oh. Two round pitchers on the bottom of everything. Yes, that’ll do it. Round things aren’t good to put a collection of 9 x 13 inch glass casserole dishes and stacks of Tupperware on. Once I took out the pitchers, my problem was over.

I have this scene in my next Myrtle Clover book that was the same way. Every time I read over the scene in my revisions, I’d frown at it. Something wasn’t right. But I never really stopped to find out what the problem was—I just skipped right over it and kept on reading. Whatever it was wasn’t too egregious, but it just wasn’t right.

Then I looked at it critically. I’d obviously liked the scene when I put it in. But now:

*It seemed awkward *The actions of the protagonist seemed out of character. *And—the kicker—it didn’t further the plot that much. I’d already accomplished the point I was trying to make in an earlier scene. It seemed like I was belaboring the point.

Thanks to the magic of computers, I cut out the scene and pasted it on a blank document, in case I wanted it back. Then I read over those pages again, this time without the scene.

Much better.

I think sometimes it could possibly mean the scene isn’t in the right location---too early in the story or too late in the story. Or maybe you’ve written in some scenes in the revision process that made the old scene unnecessary and redundant.

Either way, when something is popping out at me, I’m going to pay attention for a few minutes to correct it.