Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Plot Issues - Beware of Red Herrings

A few days ago I finished writing a short story, the kind that might be filed under the slip-stream genre.

So I finished the story, did the rewrites, edited the whole thing and left it alone for a while as I often do. I feel that the words get acquainted with the page and with each other better this way. Fine, maybe it's the distance that gives me a new perspective.

Today I got back to it and I was horrified. It's not that the story was bad, not at all. However, right at the very beginning I introduced a cat and throughout the story the cat was mentioned until the very end. The problem? you ask. The problem is that the cat didn't play any role in the plot. It was a red herring and as such was drawing attention from the main issue - the story, the theme.

Two options - the first is to delete any and all references to the cat (maybe not so dramatically, but severely), the other is to integrate the cat into the plot.

And that brings me to one more piece of advice - don't get attached to your writing. Learn to delete. Remember the plot structure we've talked about a few weeks ago where we discussed how plot should advance the story forward. Therefore, anything that doesn't do that - kill it. No mercy. It's for the best...


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