Page:The Craftsmanship of Writing.djvu/117

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THE AUTHOR'S PURPOSE

a novel—plot construction is a wholesome discipline ; and while there is not one chance in a hundred that you will overdo it, there is every chance that you will all the time be teaching yourself some new and useful trick, some clever short-cut, some way of knitting your whole structure more firmly together. It would be well if every young writer were to reduce to a ten-word limit his central idea before even starting to plot his story; keep those ten words inscribed upon a cardboard, hanging above his desk, and ask himself, with each incident, each character, each shift of scene, " To what degree does this help on my central idea? Is it essential, or only a digression? If not actually related, has it a symbolic significance that justifies it structurally? In any case, is it the best, the very last and best thing I can do?" If not, then cut it out ruthlessly and try again, and yet again, until

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