Friday, February 18, 2011

Fixtureless Friday

"Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away."

- Antoine de Saint Exupery

Someone e-mailed me this quote today, and it's perfect for what I want to post about.
(I'm taking a break from foenetic friday again.)
I've always read that as a writer we shouldn't be afraid to "kill our darlings." And I totally agreed with that. My philosophy is that a great book is XX,000 perfect words, in the perfect order, with nothing added and nothing left out. So when people asked if I would be willing to "kill my darlings," I said, "sure, if they aren't part of the XX,000 perfect words, they've got to  go.
I never had any real darlings, but what I did find was a scene that had become a "fixture." You know, that ugly light fixture that you've just gotten used too. The one you don't even notice anymore, until the realator asks, "Are you going to replace that before we list the house?"
I finished reading the great book "Save the Cat," and after reading it, went through one of my older manuscripts. I found a glaring "fixture," a scene that wasn't terrible, but it was just sitting there taking up space. It was one of the few scenes that hadn't changed much from the earliest version. It just stuck around, doing less and less as the rest of the manuscript changed. Even after multiple revisions, it was the scene that I always just skimmed, not really looking too closely at it. After reading "Save the Cat" it was so clear that the scene was unneccesary. I had no trouble relegating it to the delete file. I'm just sorry it took me so long to recognize it as a "fixture."
So what about you, have you ever found a scene that has become a "fixture?"


  1. I absolutely agree with that. I overwrite knowing that I'll cut whatever I've written to bits. Cutting down and tightening up ensures you're still saying what you wanted, but more eloquently.

    I really like that quote.

  2. As you can tell from my recent blog posts I am a fan of Save the Cat. It certainly helps reveal what scenes may or may not be needed! And thanks for the follow!

  3. I am pretty merciless with regard to ripping out my darling with my teeth.

    BUT, if it's a scene that no longer works, but I think the writing is stellar (hey, it happens ;), then I save it to a folder. On rare occasions I have used those 'lovely dead' scenes as inspiration on a new project.

    Have a fabulous weekend, Melissa!

  4. Yep, usually it's my first chapter. I hate writing the first chapter, I go through multiple versions and always I feel like I'm hanging on to something I don't need.


  5. You are so brave to delete that fixture you found in your ms!!! I actually have one I'm dithering about - it's towards the end of my wip and I know it's extraneous but oh boy, I love that scene and just want to leave it. I'm re-starting my edits again so maybe I'll find the courage to cut and paste it somewhere else!!!

    Great post, thanks for sharing!

    Take care

  6. My writing used to be full of fixtures. I'm been better about making sure I don't write them from the first draft.

  7. Oh I've found and replaced TONS of fixtures. And when they didn't look good either way, I too them out and covered them with sheetrock. Then moved on.

    LOVE that quote. I'm going to copy it and hang it on my board.

  8. For me it's mostly words or phrases that are fixtures-- I don't want to part with them but they do nothing to further the plot! Great post!

  9. I guess why it's necessary to have a good editor. I look at things and I can almost always find a justification for it being there. Even after a second pair of eyes looks and says something really should go, I often try to find a good reason for keeping it. This is another good reason for shelving something for a while to look at later.

    Tossing It Out and the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge 2011

  10. I've heard so many great things about SAVE THE CAT I'm going to have to buy it (the library doesn't have it!)

  11. I'll have to check into SAVE THE CAT. But I'm with Lola, I don't cut something and kill it. I cut and save, just in case I can use it later. I've gone through and cut whole characters who, after deep consideration and plenty of wine, I determined weren't necessary to my plot, even though I loved them.

  12. I gotta have SAVE THE CAT. Everyone is talking about it. Well, not everyone, but lots of folks.

    When I look at my novels, I can give you reasons why even the (junk) is there. Only after revisions can I say, "I guess I see why that was unnecessary." But in my heart I really don't. *wink* I mean, all my stuff, is all good. Yanno? *grin*

  13. Yes.. I'm going through edits right now and finding quite a FEW fixtures... but I tend to become so attached to these words... sometimes it's like ripping out your heart.. but they have to go... great reminder :)

  14. An interesting post, thanks for giving me something to think about.