Really Interesting

HH wanted a Miss Marple fix, so we watched Julia McKenzie in A Caribbean Mystery. We’ve seen it before but long enough ago that HH forgot most of the plot, so he wanted to see it again. The thing is, it WAS the same show, but a different edit. This was a longer version with scenes we’d never watched. And since I DID remember the shorter version, and I think the short version was better, it made me think about what we keep and what we don’t when we write. Both the short and the long were good, but the extra scenes changed the flow of the show and even the emphasis of the story once in a while.

Quite a few of my friends tend to be pantsers who write “long,” so that when they finish a book, they have to go back to cut words and tangents to get their books down to a manageable size. I’m a bare bones writer who has to ADD words when I polish to add descriptions and emotions, to round out and fill in what happened. I have to ask myself, What else do I need to make this scene come to life? Sometimes, I think of something but when I add it, it distracts from the main point I’m trying to achieve, and then I toss the addition out. But that’s rare.

Watching the longer Miss Marple made me think about what’s needed and what’s not. A few of the new scenes really added to the story. Some of them diluted it, watered the plot down with extraneous, useless material. Every writer knows that editing is a tricky thing. Yes, it involves fixing misspelled words and grammar. And there are always mistakes we didn’t see as we pounded out sentences and paragraphs. But editing is more than that. It’s trying to make each scene sing, each character come to life, each plot point sparkle. Balance is everything. Too much, too little can smudge the effect we’re trying for. It’s impossible to get everything right. But we do our best. And some writers’ best is plenty good enough.

Photo by Ron Lach on

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