Saturday, March 24, 2012

Maggie's Rule

This is Maggie. On occasion, we come across a scene or a sentence that refuses to cooperate. No matter how much we try, we can’t make it work. These giant boulders of writers’ block are so big, we can’t see around them. Any attempt to clear the path causes more boulders to appear that leads to an avalanche of misery.

Julie: Or at least several hours of clearing away pebbles.

I take this as a sign that the idea we’re trying to shove is not meant to be shoved.

What’s the solution? Maggie’s Rule.

Maggie’s Rule is when one of us suggests to cut a line, a paragraph or an idea because it refuses to cooperate. Because let’s face it, not every idea that is ever written is golden and there are reasons why it won’t be shaped and molded into the thing we were wanting it to be.

Julie: Or if you’re wishy-washy like I am, “When in doubt, take it out.” You’d be surprised how deleting a stubborn word or sentence can make your story that much stronger.

We call it “MR” for short and really it is just a time saver. No need to explain what we think should happen to this line, paragraph or idea. Just “MR” it!

Julie: It’s called “Maggie’s Rule” because Maggie’s the one who deletes things more easily. I don’t mind making changes, but I like to keep things around, just in case we might go back to them later.

The converse of Maggie’s Rule is Julie’s Rule.

Sometimes you can spend hours trying to fix a perfectly serviceable sentence. It’s often more efficient to leave that sentence and work it out in the next read-through. So in other words, “If it’s okay, it can stay.” (For a while.)

I think that “For a while” up there is redundant. Can we MR it?

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