The last few days have been a bloodbath in my office.
Adverbs were slashed with disturbing brutality. Paragraphs dropped like wounded wildebeests in sticky puddles of their own intestines. Entire chapters lay twitching on the floor, gasping for breath.
I cut nearly 4,000 words from LET IT BREATHE on Saturday, and maybe 2,000 more the day before.
For a writer at any career stage, it sucks reading something you’ve written – perhaps remembering the precise, cheerful moment you put those words on the page –and knowing those hours would have been better spent cleaning your dog’s toenails with a toothbrush.
We’ve talked before about tweaking and retooling slashed scenes, but that’s not what I mean here. I’m talking about the scenes you know in your heart need to die.
And while it stings sometimes, there’s a certain power in it.
In some of my earliest forays into fiction writing, I’d get a niggling notion something wasn’t right in a manuscript. I could never put my finger on what it was, but something was just off.
I’ve heard authors complain about editors and agents who give elusive reasons for rejection, but I totally get it. Sometimes you can’t pinpoint the problem or how to fix it – you just know something isn’t right.
That’s why it’s so empowering to read something I’ve written and to proudly declare, THIS SUCKS…but I know how to make it suck less.
Once upon a time, I assumed there’d be a day when my manuscripts would come out perfect on the first try. Sure, there’d be a few tweaks for typos, but no more heaving entire chapters into the dumpster. I looked forward to that day. I pined for it.
With eight years of fiction writing and a three-book deal under my belt, I can tell you for sure that day will never come.
I’m OK with that.
Because while cutting can be painful, there are few more exhilarating experiences than deleting words with one hand while the other is types words you know for certain should replace them.
Do you recognize when you suck? Can you relate to the euphoria of knowing exactly how to make yourself suck less? Please share.
I have to stop the dog from rolling in that puddle of manuscript brains.