>One of the most painful parts of the editing process is trimming the fat. YOu know what I mean; cutting out those awesome scenes that are only there because they’re awesome, removing the blatant info dumping. My opening page dropped three full paragraphs of a character who was ruminating on his love life. Completely irrelevant to the main character, who kills him in paragraph four. And it would be death to someone who decided to pick up that book in a store… or on an agent’s desk.
I’ve been struggling a bit with an old memory info dump. Basically, once you figure out who the assassin’s old flame is, I do this huge chapter-long flashback that outlines their last two days or so together. Nice stuff, good and intense at the end…
But ultimately, only a few parts are even relevant.
So, I’ve whipped out the axe. I’ve cut 90% of the scenes from that chapter, and the rest will be dropped here and there as flashbacks, but only where it actually adds something to the story. I cut out two pages of detailed description of her bedroom. THAT, I blame on shameless NaNoWriMo word padding. And I’m going to have to work on that, because I’m still not happy with the results.
Editing is difficult. I’ve had to cut some really good stuff that honestly just didn’t improve the storyline at all. There is one line that I’m quite glad to see go, though, and I’ll share it with you because I think I must have been in that weird place where you’re not really seeing what you write, but just writing. I certainly don’t remember doing it, and I refuse to claim responsibility.
“There was death in her visage, and it showed, even to those who knew nothing of her true profession.”
Eeew. Yeah. Editing is hard, but editing is good. I no doubt thought this was bloody brilliant when I first wrote it, but four years of collecting dust certainly changed my perspective on that.
I also cut this happy-fuzzy scene where she gets all buddy-buddy with one of the guards she has to train, complete with “You can come to me if you ever have a problem *hugs*” type dialogue. So out of character! So I switched it to her being her usual blunt, acidic self. Feels better.
The act of writing is such an organic, mystical thing for me. It’s me and the keyboard, and words flowing from my brain to my fingers. Holly Lisle says it far better than me: it’s an “almost-metaphysical fugue state where you’re watching events in the story happen and typing what you see.” Editing is far less intuitive, and requires thought, preparation, pens, more paper, and a lot of being honest with myself. It’s no wonder that I, like most writers, put it off. It’s work, real work.