Hey, another blog reviewed my book today. You can go read what Rebecca Talley thought of Ribbon of Darkness here Thanks, Rebecca!
As most of you know, I’ve been attempting to go through my basement and organize it for a while now. It’s a process, that’s for sure. Last Saturday, my husband and I unearthed the “treasures” that had been stored underneath the stairs. We hadn’t looked at any of that stuff for about ten years and it was sort of like opening a time capsule. A time capsule of mostly junk.
But as we sat and went through everything, deciding what to keep, what to give away, and what to throw away, I realized I keep a lot of junk thinking that I might need it. (Maybe our future grandkids would use these toys. Or my second cousin twice removed gave that to us for our wedding twenty-three years ago, we couldn’t get rid of it.) (Cousin, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry and you should probably stop reading this now.) Never mind that we hadn’t used it in ten years. We had to keep it.
I know, it’s a strange way to think for a person like me who enjoys organization, but I realize that I’m like that with my writing, too. Cutting scenes and words that I love is hard. I want to keep it all! If I have to cut scenes and words, I put them all in a “cut file” that I save, in case I need it later or want to add it back in. (I have cut files for every one of my seven published novels, and I’ve never needed them or even looked at them again. Sadly, it’s like the boxes under my stairs.)
The thing that I realized, sitting in my basement with boxes of mostly junk, was that I didn’t need it. All that stuff was taking up valuable real estate in my home that was preventing me from having the organized basement that I want. It wasn't the treasure it purported to be.
And that’s how it is with the words that I have to cut. Those extra scenes that I loved, or jokes that I thought were funny but weren’t, or writing that moved me---in the wrong direction, were things in my manuscript taking away from having a tight suspenseful story that readers will rave about. It's not the treasured word that I think I need. ( I blogged here not too long ago with a list of specific words and phrases you can cut.) (And no, this isn't really a repeat blog. It's more, hey look at my writing personality quirk. And I'm thinking a lot about clutter and writing lately. So there.)
We ended up taking a huge load of "treasures" to our local secondhand store that accepts donations, and we threw away a lot of stuff, too. And you know what? At first I was anxious about it, but by the end, it felt good. We freed up the space we needed and we’re one step closer to having the basement of our dreams! (Well, at least an organized one.) Just like with my novel, when I can cut away the extras, I know it’s going to be painful to think about, but the end result will be a tightly written novel that I can be proud to call mine.
Do you have a cut file? How do you deal with the process of cutting the extra “stuff” from your manuscript? Do you just delete it and move on? What's your process?