A professor of mine once told me that everything we cut from a MS haunts it. The weight and sense and soul of what we cut lingers in our work, even if it isn't visible on the page - Sarah over at Slushbusters included this quote in her post about The Scenes We Leave Out.
For whatever reason, the quote resonated with me - very deeply. I mean, I've been cutting like crazy from Margarita Nights lately, and from other projects that I'm working on as well right now. I never delete the stuff I cut, I carefully paste it into a document called Omitted Sections. I never know when something in that paragraph, or chapter (that's happened a time or two), I cut, might come in handy at some later date, or in some future project. So, I keep everything.
But, the keeping of everything is not the point of this post. I'm really not sure if there's a point to this post. Perhaps the quote is the main point of this post.
When I edit, it's like going to the dentist for a root canal - I don't want to do it, it's going to hurt, and I'm going to be all swollen afterwards.
Okay, revising is not that bad, but sometimes when I'm cutting out a paragraph here, there, and everywhere, it is very painful. It's never easy to take out swaths of writing in one fell swing of the scythe. These words, sentences, and paragraphs, are a part of me. I poured endless hours into my writing. Every. Single. Word. Is. Brilliant!
Okay, maybe not, which is the whole point of the revision process. Sometimes, though, we have to take out things that are truly special because they really don't do anything for the story.
Sarah at Slushbusters put it this way about a particular scene she cut: it wasn't part of my story but it set the stage for the story.
I've eliminated a great many paragraphs that set the stage for the story, but weren't really a part of the story. In the revision process of another project, I've cut out major, major bunches of stuff from the first few chapters. In fact, I've pretty much cut those first few chapters in half.
Now, the stuff I'm taking out is part of the story, but it really wasn't needed in those first few chapters. There are parts of the stuff I cut that I will incorporate later in the book. There are other parts that will just remain a part of the first draft and not the later drafts. In the end, though, the weight and sense and soul of what we cut lingers in our work, even if it isn't visible on the page.
It's okay to delete huge passages. It's okay to delete chapters. It's okay to . . . delete, delete, and delete some more, because the intent of the writing in the first place remains.