Deleting the Best Words.
I was sitting in Starbucks, shocking I know, editing Grave Circumstances, my piece for the Halloween anthology For Lead Me Into Darkness, which will also feature Santino Hassell, Roan Parrish, Kris Ripper, and J.C. Lillis. (Yes, I am shamelessly throwing us some promo.) Anyway, I was told by a couple people to cut part of a scene. I loved this part. It was funny, it was Daniel and Rafael banter. All my betas laughed about it, but it fucked with the flow and it took away from the focus of the story.
As authors, most of us are attached to our words. It takes us hours and hours to craft scenes, and every word we write. So when it comes to cutting every word feels like wasted time. My general rule, which I stole from Stephen King is ‘First draft – 10% = Second draft.’ As much as we’d like to we don’t spew out finished products. Editing is at least half the work of a writer. Things have to be cut, the fluff, the extra words, the scenes that don’t either carry the characters forward emotionally, or carry the plot forward. Some things are easier to cut than others. There are scenes I’ve written that I know didn’t work as soon as I reread them. Easy cut, even if it does feel like wasted time, but there are scenes we love, we laughed or cried over, but when it comes down to it, the scene just does not fit. Dilemma.
I know I go back and forth with these things. I read it over, and over, and I try to make it fit. I’ve made two drafts and had people read both. I’ve highlighted scenes and asked my betas if they needed to be cut. Some have been kept, I’ve ignored beta comments because I thought the scene was important, but when it comes down to more than one opinion saying a scene needs to be cut it’s hard to ignore them. I was there this morning. I loved the Daniel/ Rafael banter. I loved showing something Rafael wasn’t good at. Cocky fucker needed to be taken down peg or two.
I cut it. It was painful. Over all this short is part of the Bound story, but since I am making it a stand alone as well it had to be accessible to new readers so I couldn’t justify throwing people who don’t know the Bound guys into character soup to drown. Maybe after it’s release I’ll give my fan group the partial scene back, until then it goes in the deleted scene file.