Edit without mercy……that phrase sends chills rattling up and down my spine!
“What? You mean you want me to cut out chunks of the wording I’ve laboured over for weeks and months? You want me to bin them?”
I struggle with the whole editing process. I’ve never had much success at culling scenes from my book babies. It’s just too painful.
This was true until two days ago!
After agonising for days over it, Book Baby 3 underwent a massive cull by anyone’s standards. Without spoiling the storyline, I had a scene in mind to slot into the partially completed manuscript. I’ve spent the past month working on this pivotal point in the story and, in true Book Baby fashion, it evolved and grew, ending up far longer than originally planned. (My central characters have been leading me astray!)
When I slotted it into its rightful place, it just sat there, sticking out all over the place.
It fits perfectly with the first section of the tale but, like a cuckoo in the nest, it was pushing the subsequent parts out of the way.
I read it all over from start to finish. I read it again and a third time.
I spent several hours trying to “tweak” the following passages so that the flow of story continued uninterrupted. I failed miserably!
My A4 notebooks had paperclips and post its and coloured marks dotted all over them. There were squiggles by the dozen in the margins.
It was time for drastic action!
I finally overcame my fear of being ruthless and scrapped what I had written beyond the new pivotal scenes.
I scrapped approximately 250 handwritten pages.
I sacrificed between 45000-50000 words that had been lovingly written. GULP!
I waited on the ensuing panic to hit me. The anticipated mental cries of “What have you done!”
They never materialised.
It was liberating. It’s set the storyline free again and the pivotal scene is now nestling comfortably in its rightful position.
(Author breathes a sigh of relief!)
So what did I do with all those beautiful words that I’d spent months writing?
Did I shred them?
Did I bin them?
No. I closed the book over, put a post it on the front saying “Shelved” and stashed it in my “desk drawer” aka the red plastic crate that lurks under the kitchen table.
I just couldn’t bring myself to totally destroy all my hard work. After all, there’s actually nothing wrong with them. They just don’t “fit” anymore.
I’ve hoarded them away.
A further thought struck me like a bolt of lightning. I’m a word hoarder!
I probably have every creatively written word that I’ve produced over the past 30 some years stashed away in the house somewhere.
I may have finally been able to edit without mercy but I can’t destroy the evidence…yet!
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