CR Guardian

Guild of Four

Don't Be Afraid to Cut!

I once had trouble with word cutting. I'd write a scene, edit the crap out of it, then realize it wasn't needed. But I'd think, I can't cut after all that work. Wrong!

Once you realize cutting is your friend, writing becomes fun again. You're no longer afraid to make mistakes because all you need to do is revise. We aren't ancient scribes, and typewriters are old school, so why fear this?

I hadn't even looked at my novel's word count until my wife said, "Make sure it's around 100,000 words when you query." I was like, "I'm sure it is." I put my chapters together and took a peek. I subsequently spent weeks in the hospital while doctors worked endlessly to fix my frozen expression of crippling horror.

143,000 words. How did that happen? Wasn't everything essential?

Turns out, no, it wasn't.

Throughout the book, I had dedicated 10,000 words to my main character being a student. Did he need to be? No. Down to 133,000. Did the relationship between the main characters have to get physical so early? Nope. I postponed it, which cut an additional 15,000 words. Now we're cooking with fire! Down to 118,000. Do I need this? No. 115,000. Need that? Nope! 109,000. Speed up the beginning and end? YES, PLEASE! We're at 107,000!

This tactic isn't limited to cutting. When I changed the relationship between my main characters, it added depth where it was needed most. In another scene, I'd written a side character as a selfish person; I mean, she was horrible. I spent days editing the selfish version because something felt off. Then I asked, "What if she were loving?" This added emotional gravitas to the page because everything the reader feels for her becomes twisted and confused. The scene became powerful. This change also served to drop an additional 1,000 words.

Look at each chapter and ask yourself, "Is this the best way this could turn out? What if this happens instead?" You'll save yourself weeks of work if you ask before you write. 

I'm getting my book where I want it and that is exciting. This would not be true had I feared to press the delete key!

Now, before you go cutting, adding, and revising, make a copy of your draft and date it. Do this every time! That way, if you realize you've cut or changed too much, you can easily transition back. If you have Scrivener, which I highly encourage you to use, there are several tools for this including Snapshot, Rollback, and Copy to "Cut Scene" Folder.

Buy Scrivener for Windows (Regular Licence)

Be at peace and keep writing. You can only get better.

~ CR Guardian

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