Monday, June 8, 2015

The Spark of Joy Test

I come to you today from what I know is my bedroom floor, but I can't see much of it.  It's covered in bags and boxes full of college things. 

The Suite being pretty.  I miss it.

Mostly clothes, tea, and books, now that i think about it. 

Very important things. 

Seriously, if any of you can locate my Rose Puchong tea, you will instantly be my Favorite Person #5.  (Pause for inside joke:  I am still confused by that, Tyler-Rose.  Just so you know.) 

Needless to say, the next few days will consist mostly of me trying to put the material side of my life back together.  For which process Tyler-Rose and Katie the Roommate have suggested this excellent trick: 

The Spark of Joy Test.

Envision:  It is 9 pm and Susan, while unpacking, has already gone through both the 7th Harry Potter movies and is now halfway through the 2005 Pride and Prejudice.  She reaches into her backpack and pulls out, not yet another grey translucent black-ink Bic ballpoint pen, but Pair of Fuzzy Socks #10.  She holds the socks in her hands for a moment and asks, "Does this give me a spark of joy?"  The answer is "no," and she tosses them in the garbage bag destined for Goodwill. 

Fast-forward:  It is now 10 pm and Susan, still unpacking, has just managed to stop the 2005 Pride and Prejudice before the awful, out-of-character end scene in front of Chatsworth comes on.  She looks down and finds Pair of Fuzzy Socks #11 in her hands.  She asks, "Does this give me a spark of joy?"  The answer:  Yes.  She keeps them. 

It's that simple.  Tyler-Rose tells me it worked quite well for her. 

Specifically, though, she said it was more efficient than asking the usual question:  "Will I ever use this?  Will I ever wear this?  Is there any conceivable future situation in which I might need this?" 

This is starting to remind me of something..............  Writing.  (Surprise!!)  But isn't that how we usually judge whether a scene belongs?  "Does this advance the plot?  Does this show character development?  Does this set up X essential detail for later?  Does this NEED to be here?  Do I NEED this?" 

I dare you (and...myself.  Yes.  I dare myself.) to try this:  Open your manuscript and try the Spark of Joy Test on every scene.  If it passes, great.  If it doesn't, delete it. 

How much of your manuscript is left standing?? 

What's more:  It shouldn't just be every scene, people.  It should be every page.  The bar is high, and it's time to reach for it.  We here at the Feather and the Rose are reaching, anyway. 

Nota bene:  This reminds me a lot of Susan Dennard's "Magical Cookies" strategy, which is brilliant and game-changing, so if you're a writer, go check that out as well! 

1 comment:

  1. Hmm. ^^ This is a rule I'll have to keep in mind when it comes time to pack for my relocation to Germany this fall -- since goodness knows I'm not planning to ship /all/ my junk across the ocean!