Today I spent time on Big Diomede Island situated in the Bering Sea.
Okay, so I wasn’t exactly there. Not in the figurative sense. But I did a quick tour during my lunch break in an effort to capture the essence of the Aleutian Islands for the purpose of writing my way to the end of Saving Betty.
Granted, Betty’s story doesn’t take place on Big Diomede, but I tend to take the long way around to get to the end. Take tonight for instance. I worked on the first part of Saving Betty and wrote 836 words about Betty’s parents (Ronald and Peggy) and their neighbors (Ed and Carole). 836 words about secondary (dare I say, tertiary) characters. 836 awful words. Do you know what my note was at the end?
“Cut this part to only a paragraph or two.”
Because the novella isn’t about Ed and Carole or even about Ronald and Peggy. I mean, they’re important, don’t get me wrong. Ed and Carole manage Betty’s house after she goes to Adak. And Betty wouldn’t even exist if it wasn’t for Ronald and Peggy, right? She’s got to have parents. Even if they didn’t live on Big Diomede Island and their story isn’t the crux of the novella.
One of the things I enjoy most about writing is the process. I enjoy letting the characters (and the research) take me on a journey before I share the story with others. Maybe I’ll even keep some of the old drafts and share those deleted scenes after the fact.