marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,

pulling its own weight

One piece of advice I got from writing books -- when you are revising, make sure each scene does something.

When I revised, I found that the advice was entirely too weak.  I found scenes that did do something, but not something enough.  Not at the length they were in the story.  Moving the plot along a trifle, putting some details on the characterization, showing the setting but not all three at once.  They did do something, but they didn't pull their own weight -- or length, if you prefer.  Whereupon I would cut them out all and replace the whole thing with a single sentence of dialog in another scene, often enough.

Always a good rule to never let something in a story do one thing when it could do two, never two when it could do three, and never three when it could do half a dozen.  And this goes for scenes as well as anything else.

Set-up's a particular weak point.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that setup never justifies a scene on its own.  For one thing, you've got to distract the reader from it to avoid sapping tension.

But anything has to be packed together in as small a space as possible, so it uses up the minimum amount of story to pack its punch.  It pulls its own weight that way.

Tags: dual purpose, revision, set-up, writing, writing technique

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