Outlines, Structure, and Scalpels

Time to admit it: I’m taking my first serious run at writing a novel.

I’m iterating through the structure of this thing, each time adding more detail, fleshing out the outline. Many parts are at or close to the scene level, some even with good notes on dialog. But one section, one that I’ve got several ideas for, has defied refinement through each iteration.

I’ve just now realized that’s because it needs to be cut entirely. The ideas might make good short stories in the same setting, but they don’t move the main plot or resolve any conflicts.

It’s a decision with mixed feelings. One one hand, this was a fun part of the project, with good opportunities for humour and it’s sad to see it relegated to the follow-on/later bin. On the other hand, the rest of the story is shaping up to be strong enough that it doesn’t need filler-for-fun, and that’s a very good thing. Not to mention that its much less painful to do this now instead of in a second or third draft! Losing four sentences beats losing four chapters every time.

And the bonus is that there’s a handful of short stories now waiting to be written using the novel as scaffolding.