NW15: Death of 1,000 Cuts Live

IMG_20150808_185123Death of 1,000 cuts was something I had seen mentioned on Twitter, but hadn’t really looked at before the convention.

I found this panel both useful and interesting, although I know it was likely only useful for a certain group of people at that certain stage in their writing. This panel focused on editing the first page, using examples submitted by attendees in the room before the panel started.

Panellist: Tim Clare


My Notes

– Locate the reader in the narrative present – ‘she looked up from her book’ show us the scene of what’s happening, which is enough to ground us before thoughts and information about the world.
– Be specific. For example, rather than saying ‘loud music’ specific beats of a drum or rap, as music could be classical 10th century or a modern day rock club.
– Rich, concrete nouns which engage one of the five senses are good starters.
– Build up hunger for information. Rather than showing someone winning the lottery, show someone with lots of money. Explain how they got it later; once the reader’s had time to wonder.
– What’s the currency? Be specific. Give an idea so we know how the classes and castes work; what can be afforded by the rich and poor.
– Don’t over-explain. Would I explain the sun’s physics? Do people in the street explain this when someone new comes along?
– Do you refer to people you know, or yourself by their/your full name? Unless it tells us something about the way this culture refers to people, don’t use a full name just to tell the reader a not-needed surname.
– The characters will have had discussions to set things up off-screen, so no need to recap. The reader will figure it out when the plan comes to fruition.
– When describing items, can offer backstory or tell about culture/class. For example, mentioning a medicine cabinet is useful. Are there specific children’s medicines that tell us a child lives here? Are the items all home-made versions of medicine? Are they all out of date, covered in dust? What else can your items tell us about the world?


Do you have a list of items to check for in editing your first page?

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