Doubt and Revision

I just came to the conclusion, while reading over some chapters in my current writing project, that I will have to completely trash two whole chapters. Not simply rewrite–I must start over. There may be one or two salvageable scenes in there, but mostly it doesn’t work. I pushed against this growing awareness for a while. I loved those chapters dearly; they’re some of the first I worked on when I conceived the idea for my story,  but they never matured with the rest of the plot. Now I’m coming to terms with it, and I’ll tell you how.
I love my book, the overall story and flow, more dearly than any one chapter or scene. If a scene threatens to ruin the effect I’m aiming to achieve with the whole, I excise it, ruthlessly and without regret. It serves no purpose but vanity.  It took me a period of mourning to come to terms with my decision, but I’m free of my nagging suspicion of those passages’ inadequacies.
I’m not deleting them. Don’t mistake me on that point. They’re still my creative darlings, offspring of my imagination, so I don’t go so far as to kill them. I cut them out and save them in a “homeless scenes” folder on my computer.
There may be an emotion or landscape or dialogue useful to me in later stories.  So I save them on the off chance that my darlings will get a second life.
My confession is that I wanted elves and trolls and magic, but my story sure as heck didn’t. It would’ve been derivative and untrue to the narrative anyway, so why leave a tangential scene in there? I could have. I liked how it was written, the characters were interesting, and it solved a thorny problem of bringing a person into the group. But it didn’t fit. All the positives would have been lost to the feeling of inconsistency.
I have finished grieving. I have cut my lovely chapters. I have a stronger story for having done so. And I’ve learned a lot about my process.

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4 thoughts on “Doubt and Revision

  1. Pingback: Revision: Highs and Lows | Ideas and Inkstains

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