Saturday, 18 February 2006

Editing and plasters

I've decided that cutting things out of a work in progress (wip) is a bit like removing a plaster - terrifying before, painful during, but rather satisfying when it's all over.

I've been hum-ing and hah-ing over the last fortnight about how to change a major plot element in my latest story. My poor plot board looked bald. A third of my main plot points disappeared, my black moment fell down a black hole and all the little bitty cards got binned or shuffled.

I decided to replace the missing plot line with an idea that my heroine had known the hero breifly before the story starts, but he doesn't recognise her. It was a bit similar to the early story and I think I needed it as a security blanket. So I wrote a flashback for chapter 3 and started editing the rest of the seven and a half chapters I'd already done.

And then I got to chapter six, and I kept thinking, "I've got too much back story", but I didn't want to lose my flashback - it sets things up really nicely for a future scene which I knew would have a big emotional pay off. I knew in my heart of hearts I didn't really need the "shared history" element and, although I really liked my flashback to when the heroine was sixteen, I got up the courage to cut the lot. And then I had to go back through the wip and remove all the bits that referred to the flashback...

But, I feel so much better now! Cutting all the dead wood has left the story lean and faster paced. And I wrote a brand new scene today!

So that is my thought for the day: never be afraid if your delete key. We often know when we should use it, but hesitate. It's just a matter of summoning up the courage and ripping...

Go on, you know you want to.


Michelle Styles said...

Yes, I agree cutting and pasting can be theraputic.
It can really feel good to cut.
There again I enjoy revising and editing.

Anonymous said...

You did save a copy of the uncut version,didn't you?... just in case :)