Can’t I Add A Random Dance Number, Please?

Some writers overwrite, typing an abundance of words that later need to be cut and trimmed. I’m more inclined to underwrite, reducing what should be action-packed goodness to a simple sentence. And I usually do it when the scene I’m writing is difficult.

So as this after-spring-break week comes to an end, and I’ve sworn off stealing more Easter candy from my kids, I find myself eking out word-by-word an action-filled chapter that I didn’t write well the week before.

I had snapped my laptop shut with satisfaction, telling myself that Chapter 11 was fine. Just fine. Some stuff happened. My character did some stuff. And my story grew five pages longer. That’s good, right?

The following Monday I watched the new episode of SMASH. The one with the entirely gratuitous bowling alley song and dance number. Oh, yeah, I thought, wouldn’t that be nice if I could get away with filler like this in my writing? Not to mention the same episode featured a character who existed only to be a plot device. Shudder.

That’s when I realized that I had in fact written a song and dance number. Because my characters hadn’t done enough stuff in Chapter 11. I hadn’t really moved my story forward. Sure my characters moved around on the page, but the chapter didn’t contribute to the themes or plot or character development. Chapter 11 was in fact gratuitous.

That’s all changing this week, word by painful word.