Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Haircut for your Manuscript

It is AMAZING what a new haircut can do for your whole being.

On a spur of the moment decision last week, I popped into the local hairdresser with the thought that I needed some shape, something maybe shorter and a bit flirtier to lift my mood from the winter blahs. And it worked. I felt so much lighter, so much happier and, most of all, like everything was right with the world again because I felt good about myself. I felt confident and ready to tackle anything.

All because of a simple haircut.

The same can be said for a manuscript. Shaping is crucial to a story, and cutting lines, paragraphs, scenes that slow down the pace can make your manuscript that much tighter, brighter and engaging.

No, I admit, it’s not easy at all. Sort of like having long hair and deciding to cut it short. Not an easy decision, and it usually sits with you for a while as you debate back and forth with yourself if you REALLY want to do that. Similar to scenes that you really like--maybe with clever dialogue or some funny incident. It is a debate back and forth, almost a fight with yourself because you know it would be better for the book, but you feel it is such a good piece of writing, too. But if those scenes stall the pace, you are doing more of an injustice to your story and especially to your reader by giving them a pause, a reason to close the book and go do dishes. You want them to HAVE to keep turning the pages and let the dishes sit for another hour while they finish your book.

No, it’s not an easy decision to cut parts that you thought clever and witty, BUT like getting a fresh haircut, your confidence in your story will raise tenfold when you chop off the unnecessary bits and see how much you gain in forward momentum.

And like those that cut their hair and donate the lengths to special services for those in need of wigs etc, save those witty, funny scenes or pieces of dialogue in a miscellaneous file. Just because they didn’t fit this manuscript, doesn’t mean they can’t benefit another.



  1. Nice tip, Stacy. Odd how we can incorporate little things in our daily lives into our writing. I hate cutting those "special" scenes or "snip"etts. Pun intended. :D

  2. I love the analogy. It also reminded me that I'm in desperate need of a haircut! I've employed the 'give away' routine a couple of times. Sections that weren't working for one story were cut, but I was able to use them in another.

    1. ROFL, Debra!

      And that's great! Never delete the good stuff. You just proved how useful it can be.

  3. LOVE this. I just got a trim and highlights and I do feel on top of the world and rejuvenated. Never made the connection before now. xoxox