Monday, January 17, 2011

To cut or not to cut!

So you've spent weeks and months slaving over your WIP, tightening up your writing, removing all the unnecessary words.  Then you send it out to your beta readers and they say..."I think it would be better if you took this out."

Your heart thumps in your chest as you think of the long hours you spent slaving over the keyboard to get that section just right.  You brain yells, "No!  I can't take that out.  It's too important.  I need it."

Then you take a breath, and you read through the section, and you think about it, and you realize your beta reader is right.  It would be better without that section.  It slows down the pace, it's too much backstory, it has no further development.  So you take it out and you tweak what is there, and your work is better for it.

That was me this weekend.  At first I tried to write into the scene to make it more interesting, more important.  Then, as I was folding clothes, I realized the pacing was off.  I had wanted to leave the scenes in to show the passage of time, but that was easily done with a few well placed words.  I ended up cutting almost 2000 words, but in the end it is for the best.

How about you?  Have you hesitated on cutting a section, even if it would improve your work?  Did you give in to that knee jerk reaction of, "I can't!  I put too much time into that!"?  If you had to cut a huge section again, would you?


  1. Good post Mary. I feel like this sometimes, especially if it's a sentence that I love the sound of. However, I've learned, like you, that there's a difference between something sound good and being good. That is, being necessary.

  2. I cringe every time my finger hovers over the delete key. A writer friend of mine once told me that you can't be afraid to cut your favorite line. I may not be afraid of it, but it still hurts each time I do.

  3. It certainly isn't easy to cut, but I think that's the point. It's really looking at what you've written and evaluating it-- Does this move the story forward? Does it tell the reader something they need to know? Is this the right place for it? Is it something I, as the author need to know, but the reader might not need to know?

    And, I never really "cut" anything. It sill exists in a different named document, so if I find I need it, I can get it back.


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