Cutting the Perfect Line

Wednesday, January 11, 2017
I knew it was the perfect ending line when I wrote it. It was funny. It was memorable. It was emotional. Then I let someone read the piece I was writing.

“I didn’t get the last line.” What?! I launched into a long explanation of what the line meant. “OK…but are any of your readers going to know that?”

Sometimes readers are so annoying! So I went back to my piece and began reworking it to include an explanation that would make the last line understandable. I had to shoehorn in information about a little known fact I had stumbled across during research. Of course that was made more complicated by the fact that I was working with word count limitations. Other things had to come out to make room for the explanation and suddenly the piece was going in a whole different direction. Was that the direction I wanted to go? Argh!

I was faced with the choice of cutting the perfect line or revamping the entire piece. I cut the line. I loved that line.

How often have you stubbornly held on to word, a line, a subplot because it is just so good? Turn over a new leaf this year and abandon all that “perfect” writing by recognizing that it’s only perfect if it works within the specific piece you’re writing. If you can’t stand the thought of losing some gems start a file of “keepers” – everything from last line to words to ideas. Writer’s block is a great time to dust off things in this file and write something using them. Maybe you’ll just use them to remind yourself that you can write.

Why not share some of your perfect writing that didn’t make it past the first draft?

Jodi M. Webb is writer living in Pennsylvania who also is a WOW blog tour manager. You can find her blogging about books at Building Bookshelves. She's doing pretty well with her January resolution of writing daily. How are your January resolutions going?


Sioux Roslawski said...

Jodi--I hate when that happens. I wrote a piece about my son's body (with all his tattoos) being a "playground." My writing critique partners (and justifiably so) got some creepy feelings about the metaphor, even though it got cleared up in the middle of the piece, so I changed it. I did NOT want to get hotlined or even intimate anything like the things they were thinking.

Crystal Otto said...

Jodi - I'm totally stubborn like that...thank heavens I have a great (and supportive) writers group to help nudge me forwad.

Great article - thanks!


Margo Dill said...

My writing group told me once to get rid of an entire subplot and I panicked. Eventually I saw the light, listened to them, and I did get that novel published. It's so hard though! :)

MicheleKS said...

My late father (also a writer) once told me not to fall in love with my work as it could blind me to its' flaws. And he was right because although it is painful to cut something, sometimes it just has to be done because it doesn't work with the overall piece.

Mary Horner said...

I cut a line from one of my blog posts last month that I really loved but knew it just didn't fit the way I wanted it to, so now the challenge is to use it somewhere else!

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