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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Cutting a plot

As many of you know, I did another NaNoWriMo this year.  I was working on The Obsidian Chimera, the second book in The Lost Guardians series that starts with The Glass Gargoyle- aka the one with the drunken faeries ;).

I've been reading what I have so far, NaNo is so fast I don't really read what I write, and I have to say--it ain't bad.  In fact, it's feeling like a nice solid book baby!  

But there was one sub-plot that kept haunting me, and not in a good way.  It's an emotional thread and just felt out of place.  I still like it, I think, but after a few days thinking about it I've realized it doesn't feel right in this book.  This is a trilogy (or possibly a pair of trilogies) and the third book already has a darker feel (things go from bad to worse to worser (yes, it's a word- I say so ;)) so this thread might feel more natural there. 

I liked it when I added it in, and in theory liked it when I thought about it.  But when I read it, it just felt shoved in.  Plot-wise, it fits, there's nothing jarring about it.  It was just more at a gut level that I felt like I was already trying to find ways to work around it.

So, I'll be yanking the sucker out and setting it aside for possible inclusion in book 3.  I did already write the ending of The Obsidian Chimera, and the string does play a part there, so I'll have some fixing to do, but I already feel better that I'm removing it.

What about you?  Ever have to rip out a sub-plot or character because they just weren't doing it for you?

12 comments:

  1. I ended up removing someone as a POV character in the fourth Aleyne novel (to appear this summer) and thus the subplot he would have been part of got dropped. In the thrd Aleyne novel, "Broken Bonds," I ended up switching the main character, which relegated the former main plot thread to a subplot.

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    1. Wow, Margaret, I can't imagine that was easy! A POV character is such a major change, but it sounds like you did the right thing :)

      Thanks for coming by and commenting!

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  2. I've considered cutting my subplots but I think I've woven them in too much with the main plot to do so easily, so I'm opting for changing them instead. I think it's always good to trust your gut, and to set aside deleted portions rather than getting rid of them completely.Maybe this subplot will work better in the third book for you.

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    1. Ah, that's true Sarah. I did have a sub-plot I removed for an editor in another book amd I'm not looking at putting it back in- it still works and was so messy to take out I still have parts in the novel :(.

      Thank you! I think it will fit much better in book three :)

      Thanks for coming by and commenting!

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  3. Sometimes I can go off on a tangent that feels so right and then I discover it's a new plot line. I allow myself to write it because I have to. Then I pull it out and stick into my x-files for another time.

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    1. LOL! I like the X-files idea, Sharla ;). I have a bunch of files like that, mostly scenes that I just don't want to lose, but haven't found a home yet ;).

      Thanks for coming by and commenting!

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  4. Finally a chance to kill something other than your darlings! If it doesn't feel right to you, it certainly won't feel right to your readers. I'm all for the darkness, but if something shows up so suddenly that it feels inserted instead of a natural part of the story, it should go.
    I have the opposite problem. Not enough subplots. I write far too single-mindedly to notice that the story needs more depth until I'm done. Removing subplots has to be as difficult as inserting them. Maybe even more so when names or incidents from the removed subplot show up later with nothing in the story to relate to. Whoops! Good luck with that.

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    1. HEH!! Yeah, you'd like the sub-plot, Sharon, although even for you, it probably wouldn't be dark enough ;).

      I think you're right, laying in sub-plots would be VERY messy! I might suggest a big board with cards? Have each chapter at the top and a line of string for the main plot, then look to see where you can weave in sub-plots. They don't have to be mentioned in each chapter, but you do want to keep pulling them back in ;).

      Thanks for coming by and commenting!

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  5. Last month, at my editor's suggestion. She was totally right too.

    I have also totally ditched entire main plots, twice now, because it wasn't working. Both times ditching and starting over from scratch fixed everything.

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    1. That is very reassuring, Rachel! It's hard when you have something in your head as being part of a certain book, to yank it out, even when you know it's not working. Good to know I'm on the right path :).

      Thanks for coming by and commenting!

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  6. Yep, I've removed many a subplot or scene that just didn't fit, no matter how hard I tried to find a way to jam it into the story. After a while, you come to the realization that if you need to work that hard just to make it fit, then it doesn't belong. Sometimes it takes me a long time to admit it, though.

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    1. I think all writers are stubborn, Ken, or we wouldn't keep doing this! I totally agree, it took a few arguments with myself, especially since it is an element of the ending, to make me let it go.

      Thanks for coming by and commenting!

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