Based on the life of the great short-story writer Raymond Carver, particularly his last ten, post-alcoholic years, Scissors is that rare thing: a funny, compassionate, and convincing portrayal of the creative life - its compulsions, its rewards, its frustrations and its affinities with tragedy.
Raymond is a writer whose life is fraught with personal and creative struggle. His first marriage, to Marianne, is intense, passionate, and unhealthy. After his divorce, he finds new love and support with Joanne, a poet. All the while Raymond (and to some extent, each of his wives) is in an escalating conflict with his editor, Douglas, who both assists and distorts Raymond's work.
As his success and confidence grow, Raymond strives harder and harder to ensure that his stories, the most important part of his life, are published as written. Douglas, who considers the stories as much his as Raymond's, is determined to present them in the heavily edited form he's given them. Four of Raymond's stories, given in full at four different points in the novel, reflect his life, his relationships, and the creative process itself. And then Douglas goes to work on them.
Raymond's former alcoholism and his past and present relationships always lurk in the background. Marianne and Joanne offer their own perspectives on both, and in the end, after Raymond's death, Joanne finally confronts Douglas in a way that Raymond never could.