My novel is about a marriage. Eleven scenes tell the couple’s origin story–meeting, falling in love, deciding to get married… Approximately forty pages worth. It’s some of my best writing and it should be. I’ve worked on these pages for years.
But from the first draft, these scenes never seemed to be in the right place–whether it was interspersed throughout as sections, included as separate chapters, as one chapter… I tried adding to them with some less good writing. I tried compressing them.
Almost nothing am I ever certain of when writing a novel, and yet, from the beginning I knew where this novel began–at the airport some years into Cass and Ethan’s marriage.
Despite that certainty, for the last draft, I put these origin scene pages at the beginning–right up front. It was the only place I hadn’t tried, plus I thought it might create a good feeling for them as a couple. I knew it wasn’t right and yet I did it.
In all these years, the one thing I never considered (or if I did it was so fleeting as not to register) was that I didn’t need these pages AT ALL. But last week, this was the only option I had left.
I didn’t know how I would make the story work without them. I stared into the ocean. The tide went out and it came back in again. I couldn’t figure out how I would land safely. But I jumped anyway. I cut the pages.
And then I kept going. In the end I went back and picked up one scene as a separate chapter.
But this was the answer. After all this time, I didn’t need them. These scenes from the past were weights around the story I was trying to tell. They were also the problem with the pacing. It’s crazy. Now the pages fly by.
After all these years, it was as simple as that.