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May 1, 2009

The Spandrals of Literature

It goes to show how out of touch with blogging I've been lately that three favorite literary bloggers are collaborating over at the Literary Lab and I completely failed to notice until now. Truly pathetic.

However, I believe my round of close edits is strengthening the book, and I'm only about a third of the way through. There's still a few extremely hard scenes left to tackle; the very last conversation between my hero and my heroine before the end of the book, for one.

Meanwhile, I am ferreting out all the spandrels in my book. These are scenes which I originally included because I had to. You know, I had to logically explain how Person A arrived at Place B and how it connected to Plotline C, but beyond that, it wasn't much fun. The scene was boring but functional. Beta readers didn't always complain about these dull scenes, because it was obviously necessary to keep the roof from falling down on the plot, but no one danced the jitterbug of Oh-Wow-I-Love-This-Part over these scenes either.

My goal is to change all that. My goal is to make these spandrels included on the Highlights of the Cathedral tour, to turn them into panda's thumbs, or even ballistic missiles. I want to take them from being dull but functional to riveting and critical.

One of the marks of a truly good book, I think, is when as a reader you honestly can't tell the functional from the facinating scenes, the veggies from the dessert. Every scene serves a nutritious plot function, and every scene also delivers delicious plot frosting.

11 comments:

Jannette Johnson said...

Spandrals, so that's what they're called.

Lady Glamis said...

I LOVE this post! Spandrals. I love that word, too. And I agree. Everything in your book has to move the story forward. I mean, EXPLODE the story forward. Literally. Otherwise there is no reason for it to be there.

Thank you for the link over to The Literary Lab! It has been a lot of fun so far.

sraasch said...

You're absolutely right! Everything must be a delicious morsel of writing goodness.

Natalie said...

Really a great post. Making every piece of the book rock is hard, but oh-so-worth-it. Good luck with all those revisions!

Annie Louden said...

Wow, I love the way you wrote this post. And I agree, it's great when the exposition is just as entertaining as the page-turning parts.
This is good advice to keep in mind for revisions. Thanks!

Davin Malasarn said...

Spandrels. Spandrels, spandrels, spandrels. Beautiful!

Tara, thanks for noticing our blog. It's actually nice to hear that your writing has kept you from catching it until now! The reason we did it was to put more of an emphasis on the writing, so the fact that you're writing makes me pretty happy.

Good luck!

Sandra said...

Sounds like you've been reading Stephen Jay Gould! I love the image, and yes, I agree we should avoid writing the scenes readers skip. The problem is figuring out how to do that. ;)

Charlie said...

Being someone who builds bridges for a living, this usage is new to me. Nice.

Icy Roses said...

This is a fabulous point. Make the veggies taste like dessert! That's going to be my motto in writing now.

Sophie Lawson said...

I've decided to become one of your followers...don't ask me why...I am afraid the answer might involve lemmings or empty Thursday mornings.

On the other hand, I could be a follower because I find you creative, inspiring, challenging, and someone from whom I would shamelessly steal (cept I don't do that any more).

laughingwolf said...

nice new word for me, i just used to call em 'links' :O lol