I have cut and changed and edited a lot of my manuscript. As it's lying there bleeding ink,I know I need to take the next step--to go back and look at what I have left. Cutting the fat has been hard enough. However, I'm worried that in losing unessential elements, I may have lost vital plot nutrients as well.
I went to an art show over Martin Luther King weekend. Two of the artists we talked with mentioned the importance of getting the "essence" of the work. In other words, good art does not involve using a brush stroke to capture every single detail. When I dabble in painting, I want to paint too much detail. That's probably a clue for why I have a hard time cutting when I'm writing a novel. Whether you're learning how to paint or how to write, I think there is a definite "art" to being able to determine what's essential.
I have written down a list of the items I want to make sure this first section is showing. Now it's time to get up my courage and see if I accomplished my goal.
And when I do, I may have accidentally left out a vital piece or two. The good thing is that I can still go back and add some things. In talking about how to write plot, editor Cheryl Klein spoke about layering. We don't always need a whole new scene to establish a plot point. So my next job will be to see if I can layer those necessary elements into the scene I already have.