06. Cutting & saving

I think it was Samuel Johnson – the author of the dictionary – who said that, on re-reading his work, if he came across a sentence he thought was particularly fine, he cut it!

More recently, the brilliant novelist Beryl Bainbridge said much the same thing. And wasn’t it W H Auden who talked about ‘murdering your darlings’?

Fair enough. We don’t want our work to sag under the weight of your own grandiloquent grandstanding, do we? Or for the scene to get played wrong because of some clever piece of repartee you really badly want to read coming out of your character’s mouth.

Then again, I hope Johnson had the good sense to save his cuts, too. I hope he put them away in a drawer or in a commonplace book.

If you do a lot of cutting to your work, you need a scrapbook (or a scrapbook file on your computer) to tuck away what didn’t seem quite right today. It might inspire you again tomorrow or, later, provide a starting point for novel number 7!