Cut It Out!

You’re deep into edits. Things are going well until you come across what I call an “Author’s Meanderings.” This is a scene you’ve nurtured and coddled along like a baby chick. It’s brilliant! It’s gold! Hell, everything you write is gold right?! Then why isn’t it working in the story?

In situations like this, you have to be brutally honest with yourself. Let your inner editor take over, because you only have three choices:

Choice the First: Change the surrounding events in your story in an effort to force the scene to work. This sounds like a lot of extra work to me and pretty high risk. Who’s to say you won’t ruin the entire chapter? Note: I’ve taken this approach and had to delete the scene anyway.

Choice the Second: Cut your irrelevant wanderings out of the current story and paste it into a blank word doc for use at a later time. Or until you have enough time and therapy to eventually let it go.

Choice the Third (aka the right choice): When in Doubt, Cut it Out! Less fluff is a good thing.

I know it’s hard to cut the fluffy bits out of your story. I am editing a favorite scene in my WIP as I write this post. My hero’s sidekick has just been busted by his mother with a girl he supposedly hates. Reading through the chapter with my heartless editor’s eye, I realized some of the scene wasn’t working. While adorable and funny, it’s incredibly fluffy. Highlight and delete.

Sage advice from a guy who knows: Stephen King’s On Writing

The reference book I keep close when I do those intense edits: James Scott Bell’s Revision and Self-Editing for Publication


2 thoughts on “Cut It Out!

  1. There is always a sickening moment when you realize what you may love in a chapter may not actually work out. I, for one, always go for number 2 if there is really no chance of saving it. Who knows if you just want to save the writing for later. Besides, there is some comfort in keeping what you like but not exactly including it. Deleting something all together may be even more hurtful than acknowledging the scene’s “uselessness”. It’s always nice to keep things just in case, in my opinion. I wish I could effortlessly delete fluffy snippets without a pang in my heart.

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