Friday, October 21, 2011

The Importance of Keeping Focused

DSC_0171_sLately, I’ve been getting a lot of really murky emails that I just can’t make heads or tails of (none of them from writers).

The emails ramble. Then, when I finally reach the point of the email, it’s still not very clear. I’ll read it a few more times, then I’ll have to reply, asking for clarification. Then they’ll email back and sometimes I still don’t have the full picture of the school event, the volunteering needed for the band, the snack needs at the church function, etc. So I’ll email back again.

It’s frustrating, for sure. And it’s time-consuming. And it reminded me how important it is to keep focused during our own

There’s really no room for rambling in books. Keeping a narrative focus tight is just so important to keep our readers interested. Each scene should have a point—to further the plot or develop or introduce a character, etc.

During first drafts, I definitely go off on tangents. And sometimes I’ve got scenes that I just love but that don’t serve a purpose in the story. During later drafts, I take those scenes out and stick them in a Word file. Sometimes they’ll work (or parts of them will work) in different books in the series. Sometimes they just sit in their Word file graveyard. They can be hard to cut, but in the end, the flow is just so much better.

Janice Hardy had a great post this week: Tightening Your Narrative Focus with some helpful examples.

Do you ramble during drafts but tighten it up later? Ever keep your cut scenes in case you’ll need them another time?