In Brief: Whacking off LIMBS

I know authors who get their first pass edits, start a whole new document, and re-write their novel.

You think that’s crazy?

I know people who have favorite scenes they can’t let go of, and will fight and work and re-work a novel to keep that scene in, when it no longer makes sense.

You think that’s crazy?

I’m not saying one process is better than the other. What I’m saying is that, as writers, we should be open to the idea that starting from scratch may be better for our IDEA than trying to re-work the words we already have.

I’ve been working through a big revision. When I started the MS, I wanted to write magical realism. But then the slightly magical parts got too big for that genre. By the time I’d finished my first draft, the scary parts became my favorite parts. So… I had major revisions to do.

I fought through the first 30K, re-working, re-wording, re-organizing, and adding. When I got to a certain point, I wondered – WHY AM I DOING THIS TO MYSELF?

And then I made the mistake of glancing over the original 40K that was left. I remembered writing the scenes, what I felt, what I’d want a reader to feel… And I realized that if I left those words in the MS, they’d be a lot harder to let go, and they needed to be let go.

So I cut them off, and my MS will be better for it.

Still, you might stand/sit in front of your MS and be like, “Holy crap, I cut your arm off!” and your MS will say…

Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 10.55.52 AM

Because the IDEA is down and in your brain.

And the CHARACTERS are down and in your brain.

YOU HAVE THE HARD PART DONE. YOU HAVE GENERATED A STORY AND CHARACTERS TO FILL THAT STORY WITH YOUR MAGNIFICENT BRAIN. (Pretty sure I need to title a post YOUR MAGNIFICENT BRAIN).

You can re-write that story/chapter/ending/beginning/middle section. And it’ll be easier the second time.

Is this always the answer?

NO!!

But don’t be afraid to whack off that arm. Sometimes that solution is much simpler than the maze of new and old you’re creating for yourself.

Happy Writing! Or maybe I should say, Happy Re-Growing Limbs! (seems like there should be a spell for that…)

~ Jo

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