Tuesday, November 9, 2010

DELETE DELETE DELETE

The "DELETE" button is probably one of the most used and most feared on a modern-day computer keyboard. Especially for writers.

For me, it's liberating. Did I tell you I already deleted over 15,000 words from my WIP (don't worry, they're in a file, so I can always put them back)?  That was soul-cleansing. Not that those words weren't good, or they didn't have a plot, etc. It's just that I needed to bring the word count to something more palatable. I can always "suggest" putting those words back in when I get an agent. Right now, I need the manuscript to be in the best form.

And yesterday, I deleted a scene from Chapter 1. I should have done that months ago. I never liked that scene, but felt it had to be there to move the plot along. Yesterday, however, I started to think: What if the scene really is gone? I selected the text, and hit DELETE. Gone (at least until I saved). And I read the chapter again and realized nothing was amiss. The readers are smart enough to understand. There was nothing in that scene that needed to be explained, except some characterization and introduction of a character. I could easily add one line later to explain. Or not. In fact, without that scene, the tension is tauter, since we don't know what's going on from that character's point of view, although we know something bad has happened.

Isn't that neat? I've been afraid to cut that scene for months, even though I always hated it. So why was I so afraid? After all, I could easily add the scene back if necessary. With computers, we can do so much magic with our documents. Move, cut, trim, replace... all with a few keystrokes. And then there's the UNDO button. So why are we so afraid to experiment? Can you imagine the days when writers like Stephen King had to be perfect while writing with their typewriters?

Unfathomable!

4 comments:

Jen Daiker said...

The delete button is amazing, especially when you can delete and move to another file to just sit there leaving your current WiP feeling like they've lost 10 pounds!

I'm a new follower *waves* nice to meet you!

Ray Wong said...

:waves: back!

Jennifer Hillier said...

I, too, save everything. Because once I start deleting, I sort of can't stop.

I scare myself.

Ray Wong said...

Stop you maniac!