Come Late, Leave Early — the Margaret Mitchell way

Muse at 11, Writing

Recently I finished reading the most engrossing doorstop you’ll ever pick up: Gone with the Wind.  I was on a Civil War kick and felt obliged to read it, but despite my misgivings, I found it riveting.  (Grab it from your local library and dive in–you won’t be sorry!)

While I was enjoying the chronicles of Scarlett O’Hara, I also noticed that Mitchell was doing something with the “Come Late, Leave Early” technique that I’d never seen done before.

Come Late, Leave Early, just means start a scene when it is interesting (because oftentimes leadup can be reduced to just a lot of quacking), and end at an interesting point (because sometimes drama fizzles if you keep going on and on after the point…)

Mitchell actually did scenes where a conflict about a scene would be discussed (like, say, whether or not a funeral would happen), and then the actual followup scene (the funeral) would be left off.  I thought it would be jarring, but it actually made the story flow beautifully.  At no point did I ever think to myself, “Is this scene over?  I really want to know what’s going on with so-and-so!”

In short–read Gone with the Wind and see how writing is REALLY done.

I try to leave out the parts that people skip. — Elmore Leonard

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