Mike Yanagita and My WIP

A few years back (okay, more than a few), the movie Fargo came out. Hilarious movie, even if the folks in North Dakota claim they don’t talk that way. Actually, they’re right. The people in Minne-soh-eh-dah talk that way. I know. I went to college with them.


Anyway, there’s this goofy character who keeps popping up during the movie: Mike Yanagita. At one point Marge (the sheriff) meets with him in a hotel restaurant and comes on strong. And desperate. And at the end of the scene, you’re left thinking, “What the hell does that have to do with anything?” Maybe that was the point. After all, it is a Cohen Brothers’ movie. But the scenes and the character could have been completely cut without losing anything from the plot.

So what does Mike Yanagita have to do with my current work in progress? Well, my goal this year is to revamp an old romantic comedy I wrote years ago, get an agent with it, and maybe break into New York. We shall see if that come about, but the first step is to rewrite the book. And the whole first chapter is like Mike Yanagita all over again. Completely superfluous. Sure, it’s fun to watch my characters wander around in their world and bumble over one another, but there’s not tension. No plot. Just… wandering. I read the first chapter and thought, “What the hell does that have to do with anything?”

My dear friend Lani calls them dead darlings: scenes you love but that really don’t move the plot forward. Me? I’m a little more partial to calling them Yanagitas, simply because that was the biggest what the… moment that’s made it into the mainstream. And to be honest, I kinda liked Mike Yanagita. But I’m just screwy that way.

But, like Mike, they’ve gotta go. So to start my new year, I get to shred the heck out of this book. It seems like a daunting task going in, but having totally torn Let’s Dish to shreds and rebuilding it, I can do anything, right? Right.

Bye-bye, Mike.


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