I recently stumbled upon a blog post that side-saddled the uncropped version of iconic photos to the cropped versions popular culture has come to know. As I was staring at an uncropped, unperfected still of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (standing lamps, cardboard boxes, burlap sheets and other set props exposed in all their glory), something dawned on me: sometimes, an idea is only as good as how you frame it.
In the final, more famous Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band photo, all signs of the stage setup are neatly cropped from all sides. What are you left with? A crowd of cardboard celebrities stretching from Marilyn Monroe clear left to Cassius Clay, and the feeling that the shot must have happened spontaneously in one beautifully orchestrated lens snap. One glance at the original version quickly reminds you of The Beatles cover’s humbler beginnings.
Writing is a lot like photography. Tweaks, changes and minor alterations can mean the difference between an unclear thought and a brilliantly communicated one. The hard part is having the foresight to realize that not all writing flows from your pen in its perfect, final form. The cover artist who saw the original Sgt. Pepper’s photo probably wasn’t thrilled with its composition, but with a little trimming away from the edges, a well-tailored, impactful (and more than 40 years later, still iconic) photo took form. So the next time you’re tempted to toss your latest batch of writing, remember our friends The Beatles and their less-than-glamorous Sgt. Pepper photo shoot. Writer, it only takes a little creative tweaking to take your words where you want them to go.