Change is Not Bad

They say that when you’re revising a novel, and you can’t get a chapter to flow properly, that you should try cutting your favourite scene. You know the one. The one you wrote first. The one that inspired the chapter, the character, or even the whole book. The one you think is so perfect, so emotional, so driving. Yeah. That one. Cut it out, and suddenly your book makes so much more sense.

And by they I mean Joss Whedon. He’s the one who said that. And he’s the most brilliant storyteller I’ve ever encountered. So you should take him seriously.

We hold onto things because they’re familiar. We love them. We put work into them, and have fond memories of them. But eventually they start standing in our way. They hinder our progress. The novel has gone on and changed, as novels do, and we’re still trying to keep our white elephant.

Change is good. We think something is wonderful, and perfect, and exactly how we want it and we never want it to change. But if things really are perfect it means we have no higher goal to strive for, and that’s never true. Perfection doesn’t exist. We have to keep changing, reaching, and improving. We have to keep trying to reach that distant, impossible star.

Look at the seasons. When spring comes we’re all like “Oooh, green leaves. Pretty. And flowers. Gorgeous. Spring is my favourite season!” and then Fall comes and its the same thing all over again. Striking colours. Tumbling leaves. Crisp autumn breezes. Breathtaking sunsets. And we never want it to end. But then winter comes, with icicles and snow white fields, and brown forests transformed into a winter wonderland that takes our breath away.

Who can say which season is the best? They all are. To say “I never want this to change” is to deprive yourself of the wonder and magic of the other seasons. Change is good.

Change is painful. Cutting out that favourite scene? It’s like cutting out your heart. But if you don’t do it, you’ll never improve. Sometimes when change comes you don’t know what will happen. It might end in disaster. It might backfire, or explode. Changes in seasons have their downsides too. They come with storms and rain and mud and frozen pipes and tornadoes.

And when metal goes through the fire to be tempered, that hurts too.

Is there such a thing as bad change? Oh, sure. But until you try it you don’t know if it’s good or bad. But it is worth the risk. It is ALWAYS worth the risk. And which would you rather be? A risk-taker or a scaredy-cat?

You have to reach out, embrace the change, leap for the stars, fight the impossible, and cut your favourite scene.

Because if you don’t you’ll never win the prize. You’ll never publish your novel. And you’ll never see how gorgeous winter can be.


Comments

Change is Not Bad — 4 Comments

  1. Funny that this should show up in my inbox today. Last night I finally cut all ties with five years of work, and wrote a solid three thousand words in my novel that’s completely fresh and new. I’d been struggling with the old stuff for a long time, but not wanting to do a complete rewrite because I felt like that would waste all the effort I had put into the earlier drafts. Little did I know that the work that had been done in my head would still carry over to this new draft, which I have no idea where it will go. It’s an exciting time to be writing. ๐Ÿ˜€

    Anyways, great post, and thanks for sharing.
    Andrew

    • Sometimes the last thing on earth you want to do is start another draft, but oftentimes that just what you have to keep doing. Done it plenty of times myself. ๐Ÿ˜€ Glad things are coming together for you!

  2. I’ve certainly learned the last two years that change is good–awful, but good for me. I’ve had a complete makeover of sorts, as an author. When I cut the favorite scene, I just move it to another story where it does better. And sometimes, that means the first story, the one I was struggling with, falls apart completely. ๐Ÿ˜›

    I’ve started your Supervillain series. Love it so far!

    • Sometimes the story you’re trying to tell isn’t the one that wants to be written. In such cases it’s usually wisest to pay attention to the story.

      Cool! Glad you’re enjoying it. Thanks for stopping by!

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