Monday, November 3, 2008

Click the delete button

I've been engrossed in edits at the same time I'm working on my NaNoWriMo novel. One thing I've learned as an author is that we cannot be afraid to click the delete button. One of my biggest time wasters has been me trying to get a scene to fit in a novel-when it REALLY needs to be deleted.

On this current novel I've deleted more than 20,000 words in the last month but the manuscript is within a few hundred words of where I started. That is because my liberal use of the delete button has allowed me the freedom to work in new scenes that strengthen my writing rather than trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.

But I don't advocate simply dumping these scenes! For every novel [or other MS] that I write I have a "deleted scenes" file. So rather than delete I actually cut and paste the scene from one novel and paste it in the deleted scenes file. There have been 2 or 3 times in this current novel where I've realized that a 'deleted' scene could be used in the book with tweaking. These scenes actually strengthened my book by moving their location. Imagine if I'd insisted on making them work where they originally were!

On that same topic I keep books that just "don't work out". 2 years ago during NaNoWriMo I tried to write a piece of women's fiction based on a character from a suspense I'd written. I got 25,000 words in to the book before I realized that I simply was not gifted to write Women's Fiction.

Well, when I was deepening the characters in the MS I'm editing now I realized a scene from that "women's fiction" book would add to my current MS. Glad I didn't delete it.

So, look at your stories like a puzzle. When you pick up a piece that doesn't fit you don't throw it in the trash, you don't cut the edges to force it in to place and you don't give up. You put the pieces back in the box until you find the right fit!

The same can be said of your entire writing career. You can't keep working on the same MS trying to get it it fit. Work on something else and put the manuscript with 200 rejections on the shelf. The day MAY come when it is ready to dust off but, in the meantime, focus on other projects to build your writing career.

Your coach for the journey, Tiffany Colter

Read A Face in the Shadow on my other blog.


Suzanne said...


This is not the first time you've said this, but it is the first time that it's really hit me. This is a great idea!


Sharon A. Lavy said...

Since I have my "Waiting for a Home" file it is much easier to delete. And like you, I often find it fits somewhere else.

If it doesn't ever fit anywhere, the "Waiting" file helps me clean up my manuscripts because I am not afraid to cut something.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Tiffany -

Someone once told me to save all the versions of my book. The only problem is I've edited the manuscript more times than I can count.

Your suggestion makes a lot more sense.

Susan :)