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Writing, Writing Craft, Writing Process

Cut and Paste

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Today I felt really creative. I´ve been working so hard with one of the chapters in my book – it was all just a big mess! So I read it all through, and then I wrote down a description of every paragraph in that chapter on a piece of paper. The descriptions of each paragraph in that chapter was written with one sentence only. For example:

“Greg thinks of his childhood”
“Greg speaks to his psychologist”

That would describe two full paragraphs. It is enough for me to know what the full paragraph is about. Then I took a pair of scissors and cut it all into pieces, sentence by sentence. Now I had all that messy chapter´s paragraphs lined up in front of me at small pieces of paper. Short and neat, a few sentences only, describing it all. I placed them all at the table. That allow me to move around the paragraphs as I wanted to (trial and error), without messing it up in my file at the computer. I moved them around until I could see the logic I had lost in that messy file. Then I took a piece of tape and attached them on that table in the order I want to have them in my book. It gives me a clear picture of how I want to structure that messy chapter, and allows me to keep on working in a good phase, secure that I´m heading the right way. Cut and paste – it works great!

Discussion: What is your trick to get order in your stories? Do you belong to those lucky authors who just write it down perfectly at the very first time, or do you have to work to get where you want? What is your experience of “cutting and pasting”? Do you have a better idea, please share it and let everybody know.

About Magdalena Wiklund

Leg. biomedicinsk analytiker och maker. Arbetar med transfusionsmedicin till vardags, forskar på antibiotikaresistens på fritiden. Jag skapade Sveriges största site för biomedicinska analytiker därför att detta verkligen är ett fantastiskt yrke som jag hoppas att fler ska intressera sig för.


8 thoughts on “Cut and Paste

  1. I pretty much do the same thing, but on the computer. If it’s really bad (or long) I’ll just open a new file, copy the section that needs to be rehashed into the new file (so I don’t accidentally wipe a paragraph or something), and start swapping things around.

    I like your idea, because it’s probably easier to see for longer sections (although my dog would probably eat one of the papers, knowing my luck!). The only real advantage of my method is that I often find a way to include something I didn’t think I could and hadn’t managed to get down the first go-round. So, I end up rewriting some paragraphs (or splitting, combining, etc.)

    Posted by Shannon Howell | January 18, 2012, 2:02 am
    • Shannon Howell,
      Really nice to hear from someone else who’s doing it in another way. I might try that one two. But yes, longer sections (this chapter of mine had just over 4 000 words), are easier to do with paper and scissors.
      When it come to you dog – he he/she really eat up the pieces of paper if you use a tape at your table?
      Take Care, Ill pop by at your place (blog – LOL)

      Posted by Magdalena Wiklund | January 18, 2012, 8:41 am
  2. Smart idea Maggie. Thanks.

    Posted by VIKRAM ROY | January 18, 2012, 11:08 am
  3. That is a really good idea. A whole new slant on cut & paste. I like it. 🙂

    Posted by Pete Denton | January 30, 2012, 8:27 pm

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