The Director’s Cut

During my rewrites of the work in progress I came across a section which has given me trouble from the word go. Rewrites have improved it but I was still struggling to make it sing. Nothing seemed to work. All the usual tools in my writer’s toolkit weren’t able to get to the heart of the problem. Dispirited after another fruitless attempt to bring it up to the level of the rest of the book, I abandoned my study and stomped off.

Needing a boost I decided to watch The Devil Wears Prada on DVD. I’ve seen the movie several times. I can quote my favourite lines as they are being said but it always makes me laugh and I was in need of comfort. When the movie finished I decided to watch the outtakes and then look at the deleted scenes whilst listening to the director’s commentary.

What became apparent with a lot of the scenes that had been cut was that there was actually very little wrong with them. In most instances the point of the scene had been made better in a different scene making the cut scene superfluous or the movie was simply running too long and a scene had to be trimmed with the vital parts of that scene being retained and anything else being cut. Most of the scenes that were cut were beautifully shot and yet had no place in the movie because they didn’t carry their weight.

Lightbulb moment.

lightbulb
Lightbulb by Richard Rutter courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY 2.0

https://flic.kr/p/5neV8y   https://goo.gl/sZ7V7x

I knew I could use the logic of this process on the section I was having difficulty with.

The next day I returned to the study, buoyed up and ready to attack the troublesome section with a pair of metaphorical scissors. For the next couple of hours I transformed the section from flabby to tight. With my Director’s Cut take on things I was able to zero in on the pieces of the work that were crucial and the parts that could be done away with – however nicely written.

scissors
Scissors by Dean Hochman courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY 2.0

https://flic.kr/p/r2NyMb   https://goo.gl/sZ7V7x

By the end of the day, the section worked. Up until that point I had been working too closely with it. What I needed to do was take a director’s bird’s eye overview of the piece and then it became apparent where the problems were.

So the next time you are having difficulties become the director and get your metaphorical scissors ready for action.

directors-chair
Directing your Life by Carol VanHook courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY 2.0

https://flic.kr/p/nhSg57  https://goo.gl/sZ7V7x

 

the-flower-seller-cover-small
http://Author.to/EllieHolmes
the-tregelian-hoard-cover
http://Author.to/EllieHolmes

 

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4 thoughts on “The Director’s Cut

  1. Akaluv 20/01/2017 / 2:56 am

    This is great advice! I’ll be doing a rewrite of my story soon, so I needed this =)

    Like

  2. April Munday 23/01/2017 / 11:18 am

    I cut out the whole of the first section of a novella yesterday, despite it containing what I think is a good opening sentence. It means that the new opening sentence needs a bit of work, but the first section was only necessary because of the opening sentence and it added nothing to the story. My novels and novellas tend to be low on word count in the first place, so cutting anything is painful, but they do seem to grow into something better as a result.

    Like

    • ellieholmesauthor 23/01/2017 / 12:38 pm

      Sometimes as writers we need to be brave and take hard decisions. Well done for grasping the nettle. Ellie x

      Liked by 1 person

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