Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Is it a Horse? - on the Necessity of Cutting

Better a good 2 minutes than a boring 5...


But it's such a beautiful piano solo. That theme is worth repeating, isn't it? The director loves this shot! The crew took all day to get it- I have to cut this shot in. My mythical world is so neat that I'm sure everyone will want to read a lot of description of it, right?

And so on.

Whether you're a composer, an editor, a writer, or any other kind of creative artist, it's important to know when to cut- when it's too much.

When you're no longer putting something in because it needs to be in there, but rather because you want it to be in there.

Or maybe just because you can.

DaVinci (I think it was?), when asked how he could carve such great statues, responded thus, and I paraphrase shamelessly: "I simply cut away everything that's not a horse."

So I ask you to ask yourself- is it a horse?

Does it really need to be in there?

Composer- does that gorgeous but repetitive solo fit the arc of your piece, or does it slow it down? (Confession!)

Author- did the reader really have to know all that?

Editor- yeah, it's a gorgeous shot, but please, on with the story!

As I hack away at my piece of the week, Phrygia, I am reminded yet again how important it is to differentiate between the essentials and the accidentals, the wheat and the chaff, the story and the frills.

Trim the fat. Make it meaty.

Cut, cut, cut.

You may just be surprised how much better it is for your efforts.

"The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things." - Pr. 15:28

21 comments:

Aubrey Hansen said...

Point taken. ;) Great post! I very much agree, especially on film. 'Tis funny - this week we've both told each other to "cut and condense" our respective WIP. :)

Looking forward to the revised version of your piece!

Jordan said...

Cutting is good. Tight stories are great. Good quote from da Vinci, too.

Though I must say two things that remotely have something to do with this topic…

1. I can never stand it when people skip the long "hiking" scenes of Lord of the Rings, simply because it's just all pretty footage that has nothing to do with the story.

2. One of my favorite British book gags is a section from Edith Nesbit's The Magic City, where she goes on for about a page and a half in parentheses about something that has nothing to do with the story at all. The punchline is when at the end of this monologue she writes something to the effect of, "And that has nothing to do with the story, so I'll put it in parentheses so you can skip it if you like." :-D

Gabriel Hudelson said...

Me too, Aubrey, me too. :-D

Jordan, I personally find stuff like that hilarious. Love it.

And I'm all for gorgeous footage...

Moriah Renata said...

Very well said Gabriel! I know you love Charles Dickens books, but i really don't enjoy how much description he puts in there, because it so very long and quiet as dismal! But he is a good writer! : )

Gabriel Hudelson said...

I don't know what it is about Dickens' writing, but I don't find his descriptions to be as cutworthy, usually.

Nevertheless, he's definitely wordy- I just love the words he uses and the way he uses them, I guess.

I love you, sis! Thanks for the comment. :-)

Moriah Renata said...

Your welcome, And I love you sooooo much! :)

Jamie T said...

*sighes* Tis something I need to work on in my writing--desperately. I have a tendency to go on too much with silly dialogue. I even mentioned it to Rebekah once, that I should cut back on the silliness in my story, but she said, No! Don't! Those are some of the best parts!

Sooooooo . . . .

~Jamie Joyce

Moriah Renata said...

I would cut back. : ) But...... I am one of those people that would love to go on and on about "What she's wearing, and how her hair was done, and etc.." :-) LOL
I've stopped writing three books, because there wasn't even a story! :)

Jamie T said...

LOL, Moriah! You're funny!

Actually, I don't describe much in the way of what people are wearing, or what a room looks like (like the color of the carpet or texture of the tile or what's hanging off the walls). I bore myself writing like that (often times reading it too)--I'm more of a dialogue person. ;) Of course, that's where all my writing-problems lie, too...

It's sad when stories just don't turn into stories! Lol

~Jamie Joyce

Mademoiselle Moriah said...

I know! It's often aggravating! I don't like doing dialogue. I really just don't enjoy reading it. But, I do like being one of the dialoguers! LOL :-)

(Is Dialogers in the dictionary?)

Jamie T said...

Uhhhhh, I don't think so.....

:)

~Jamie Joyce

Mademoiselle Moriah said...

Well, Let's just say i like participating in Noble Discussions. :) LOL

BTW, Have you been to our blog?

Jamie T said...

Nope, didn't know you had one. :)

~Jamie Joyce

mademoiselle Moriah said...

We do, It's the hudelson Ladies blog. You can click on my name, and it will take u 2 it. :)

Mademoiselle Moriah said...

Oh! I've seen your blog, through two blue eyes And i really like it! Genius name. :)

Jamie T said...

Well, thank you very much! :) I will have to check yours out too.

~Jamie Joyce

Kayla T said...

Cutting out things from film scenes can be hard for me, but when I leave them in it's more hard to watch!!! I know totally what you mean!

Saw your blog, Moriah! Love it. I will probably see you there soon.

mademoiselle Moriah said...

Good! Glad you like it! Do you happen to have a blog?
I would chat a ton with you, but a family (our neighbor) is over for dinner, so i gotta fly! (yes i am not a convict.) :p
bye

Kayla T said...

In a way I have a blog... the family blog has been deserted and I am now using it. Someday I hope to have my very own blog but not right now :D.
There's a link to it on Jamie's blog.

Mademoiselle Moriah said...

O.K. :)

BTW, I have something to tell you, tomorrow, about the movie we are doing.

So stay tuned! ; - )

Rebekah said...

A very good point. I do think that's one reason why letting others give suggestions is such a good thing!

Not every author is Mr. Dicken's and can go on about something for a long time, without losing the reader... :p

To the KING be all the glory!
Rebekah