On Cutting for the SF Artist

Original by Betsy James with permission.

“Top-heavy, too earnest, too detailed” describes most early drafts, certainly my own. That’s how it should be. In the beginning you have to let ‘er rip, pile it on, explore, make a mess. If you don’t you’ll get self-conscious and inhibit yourself.

Then you cut.

Over time you develop an intuition about what can stay, what must go. It’s analogous to the draftsman’s eye for weight, movement, structure. What do you emphasize? What should you erase? Which lines catch the dynamic of the model, and which obscure it?

A final drawing doesn’t keep all the experiments of an initial sketch. An initial draft must undergo trim after trim to find its final elegance.

Betsy James is the author and illustrator of seventeen books for adults and children. Among other honors, her books have been named: Tiptree Award Honor Book; New York Public Library Best Book for Teens; Voices of Youth Advocates Best Book; Junior Library Guild Selection; Canadian Children’s Book Center Best Book; and International Reading Association Children’s Choice. She facilitates writers’ workshops nationally and internationally. Check out her latest review here and buy her latest book here.

http://www.listeningatthegate.com (older readers)

http://www.betsyjames.com (younger readers)

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