It’s been a busy editing stint for me this month! If you follow my blog, I’ve written about how I’ve been jumping around to edit and how much I love my beta readers because they make me cut stuff. At this point, I’ve cut over 7 full pages of single-spaced text from a Word doc of “The King’s Sons.” That includes two entire, albeit shorter, scenes from near the end. That wasn’t easy to do, for a number of reasons. So I thought I’d reflect on the experience here. I admit, cutting out a whole scene like that is rare for me, so it’s made me think.
- MOST THINGS THAT ARE WORTHWHILE ARE DIFFICULT. So cutting these scenes wasn’t easy for me. There were aspects of them I liked, and that I was sorry to lose. But it was definitely worthwhile. I think the story as a whole is better for the change: more cohesive, and better paced. While I liked those moments, that in and of itself is not enough to justify not cutting something if the fact that I like it is really the only justification to keep it.
- I’M GLAD I TOOK THE TIME TO SECOND GUESS MY DECISION TO CUT. What I mean by that is, I didn’t make the choice lightly. I read through the scenes extensively, double-checking that there was no really vital information there, and that the novel would be okay without them. In some ways I think I was just being a coward and trying to give those scenes a reprieve. But I knew I shouldn’t keep them, and I didn’t in the end. What I did do was reassure myself that I made the right decision, which helped me feel better about cutting.
- SOMETIMES MINOR CHARACTERS NEED TO STAY MINOR. Especially in a trilogy about four families’ worth of people, complete with their kids. That’s why, out of a lot of things that happen after the book’s major showdown–too many things, if I’m honest–I chose to totally scrap the account of a minor character’s homecoming after a battle. I really enjoy that character. And I wanted to see him arrive home again and know that everything would be all right for him. But upon reflection I felt the story makes that clear without me having to show it, based upon a couple of comments another person makes earlier. Also, the scene had some description problems. And honestly, I didn’t like that I brought this character’s kids into a scene at the novel’s end when they had never been seen before. So I cut.