Monday, March 9, 2009

Get a little closer

I considered doing a post about the evils of the daylight savings time system and how I want to get up a petition to stop the insanity of it, but I don't want to just get on my soapbox and rant--not today anyway. That's just me losing focus. I do that sometimes. So I'm bringing the focus to focusing in.
What's the real story in this picture? It was all there and all true. Actually there was a lot more in it that I cut out already. Just like I've done with my editing, but there's still so much that just distracts from what I want to focus on.

Here's the real story. The potato gun. A study in physics and fun. When you crop the picture completely the story becomes clearer. The same is true for our writing. 

We have to cut out the excess and focus in on what's important to our stories--eliminating the dead wood. With all my edits lately I'm finding this so incredibly important. There are parts of my story that I enjoy and my daughter enjoys, but that doesn't mean that they belong in the book.


Once we hone in on what's important, it makes the picture better or have more of an impact. This is also true for our writing. This is where we show the details. This is how we put the reader in the scene.


That's the exact same angle of the Washington Monument--just closer. But it tells a different story than the first one. While it's essential to give a context for the picture (if you didn't know that was a picture of the Washington Monument it might mean less to you), the closeness shows things you can't see from a distance. The variation in color of the stones. The nicks and chips. The wire.

Same subject. What story does this angle and closeness tell you? Where's the focus? I love how you can see the mortar.

All weekend I've been thinking about what's important for my story and how to best focus in on those things and not let distractions drift in and take over. That is something that drives me crazy in books I read--when they drift off and go on for pages and pages on something irrelevant. Maybe it's intriguing and maybe it's funny, but is it necessary? It can be hard to see in your own writing though. That's where beta readers come in so handy. So right now with my story I'm working on cutting the dead wood that is dragging things down.

One more visual pair. The Maryland WWII Memorial. Which picture has more impact for you? Is it the one farther away or the one closer up. It's essentially the same angle. The flags are the same in both pictures.


23 comments:

giddymomof6 said...

Okay, looking over the pictures again and just marvelling at how talented you are. And I feel the same way about my writing... I want it cropped; showing the story and making each scene important. Jenni

PJ Hoover said...

A very cool perspective, Lois!

And I love the Washington Monument!

peace, love, and rock&roll said...

awesome way of looking at things! and huzzah for my truck making it into the first picture ;)

Natalie said...

Yeah, I'm going through this process in my own writing right now. I'm having to cut a few scenes I love, but aren't really needed. Sigh, I'm going to miss them, oh well. Chop, chop, chop.

lotusgirl said...

Jenni, Thanks. Would you believe I considered being a professional photographer?

PJ, Glad you enjoyed.

Alyssa, I considered making the focus be your truck. You know I did.

Natalie, You and I are at similar stages I think, although you've gotten there a lot faster on your story than I have with mine.

beth said...

AH! Such a brilliant analogy! *bows down in awe*

lotusgirl said...

Beth. Thanks! Sometimes the lightbulb comes on.

Lady Glamis said...

And you said you couldn't write amazing, intelligent posts. Hello! This is perfect! Your pictures are amazing, too. Where's that CD you were going to send me, hehe. :)

I still owe you mine, too, I guess. Let me know if you still need me as a sounding board for Gifted. :)

Kate Karyus Quinn said...

Wonderful pictures - they really prove your point!

In defense of daylight savings, while it did suck to lose an hour this weekend, for me it is totally worth it to gain that extra hour of sunlight in the evening.

lotusgirl said...

Glam, yes, when I posted these pix of DC it reminded me I need to do that disc for you. I definitely still need to bounce things off you for gifted, but not immediately.

Kate, Thanks. As for the daylight savings the extra hour of sunlight is nice, but I wish they would just pick a time and leave it. The whole changing times back and forth throws me off. The one in the spring is especially hard because I am not a morning person. I know I only lose one hour, but for about a week it feels like I lose an hour a day.

Justus M. Bowman said...

You're right. It helps to figure out what's important.

I remember realizing there were only two characters essential to my story. Don't get me wrong, I loved the idea of most of my characters, but I knew only two had to be there. If they went, I went. When I understand that, I had an easier time editing.

Litgirl01 said...

I love creative people! The time change stinks...truly. I am all out of sorts today and my students are like zombies (which I know will excite some of you). LOL Srudent zombies suck all of teacher's brain power...

lotusgirl said...

Justus. I have to have more than just 2 people to make my story work, but there are some I've ended up cutting out.

Litgirl, Wow. Your zombie premise could make a good book. haha!

Crimogenic said...

Just like others have mentioned, I've gone thru 'cutting' in my first novel as well. I almost cried when I cut out a whole chapter. But it was useless to the story :)

lotusgirl said...

I've cut several full chapters. I understand the whole crying thing. I just had a friend who's read my whole ms read one of the chapters I cut and she said, "why in the world did you cut that chapter?" so I'm thinking I'm going to have to add it back in. Yea! but it just means I have to cut something else.

Captain Hook said...

Great post!! Yeah, I'm still waiting for my pictures from you and Glam from your weekend here.

lotusgirl said...

Sarah, yeah, sorry. I need to make you a cd. Michelle too.

Alexa said...

Excellent post. I'm currently, cutting, rewriting and adding. It's so hard to "kill your darlings" :)

The photos are amazing, the last one simply awesome I may have to go and try and recreate it.

lotusgirl said...

Alexa, I feel so criminal sometimes with my cutting.

Thanks about the photos. I especially like that last one too. The memorial is in Annapolis. If you haven't been to Annapolis yet, you should go. It is a gorgeous city. Michelle and I ran out of time for taking pictures there. Those at the memorial were the only ones I got. I'm going to have to go back so I can get some pictures of the downtown area.

Kelly H-Y said...

What a great post, and such fabulous examples of changing perspectives! Very nice.

lotusgirl said...

Thanks, Kelly.

Joe Iriarte said...

I love your posts using photography as a metaphor for writing. It sounds like you and I are in similar places, revisionwise. :)

Solvang Sherrie said...

That was brilliant, bringing the photos closer...love how it changes the perspective. BTW, if you start the petition, I will sign it. I HATE DST.