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Empty-Page Syndrome
Eve-Anne Griffin
Posted: Friday, February 21, 2014 1:32 PM

Isn't it hard to part with those sentences that you worked so hard to make perfect and then discovered they had no place in your story?

It's possible I have a problem parting with my revisions.  After all, I do have a folder labeled "cuts" where nearly everything but typos goes to die.  I'm so positive I'll need those perfect sentences again.  I've even convinced myself that I'll remember the exact context and placement.  Never mind that they're all pasted to one document, separated by a string of asterisks.  I'll find it if I need it, right?

Does anyone else have this problem?  Perhaps there's a 3 or 4 step process to go through when letting go of your text.  If it's more than 5 steps, I'll just keep the folder.

Eve-Anne Griffin

Ian Nathaniel Cohen
Posted: Friday, February 21, 2014 2:30 PM
I feel your pain - and it's even worse when it's entire scenes that have to go, not just sentences.  I do hang on to some of it, like you do, creating a "deleted scenes" document (which was fortunate when I changed the opening chapter of The Brotherhood of the Black Flag and reverted it back when I realized it just didn't work).
Eve-Anne Griffin
Posted: Friday, February 21, 2014 3:36 PM
See.  I know I'm going to need something in there some day.  Hopefully I have a hard drive big enough.
LeeAnna Holt
Posted: Saturday, February 22, 2014 3:55 AM
Joined: 4/30/2011
Posts: 662

I used to think that way, but then I learned that sometimes the perfect sentences must go. That is when I started editing in pen. Just scratch it out. Don't even track changes in Word unless the change is iffy. You'd be surprised how much can be dumped. I still have all my old edits just in case of a transcription error or I've forgotten the point of a scene, but I'm getting ready to purge them once my new draft is done. I won't need them any more. They're just dead weight.
You need to look at your writing like you're another person. Ask yourself (1) Is the information relevant? (2) Do the words flow better with/without it? (3) Can the information be said in fewer words?


Number 1 is the biggie. Unless it's relevant to your story/character/plot/setting, cut it. I'm a huge stickler with this one. It's probably one of the reasons why my descriptions are more along the lines of "She's in a dress, leaning on a table under a window. It's sunny." (Not that awful, mind you.) Economic writing is often the most effective because the pacing adds to the tension. Unless a word/paragraph/whole-freaking-scene adds to a story, cut it loose and dump it. You'll probably never need it again.

Posted: Saturday, February 22, 2014 7:59 PM
Joined: 9/17/2013
Posts: 104

I'm with LeeAnna on this one. My first drafts have many perfect sentences, paragraphs, and scenes. The entire story is improved when I remove a third of the words from the first draft.
Linnea Ren
Posted: Monday, February 24, 2014 9:30 AM

When I revise, I copy and paste the entire document (or I just save as), so I keep the old draft, and the new draft. Plus, I have printed copies of all my drafts. This isn't because I feel like I might come back and realize just how awesome that one sentence is, this is because when I revise I change every word. Not even joking. There is not a single sentence of the current version of The First Nine that's the same as the first draft. Even the title is different. 


Everyone always says you should cut from your first draft and it makes it better. For me? That doesn't work. I add. I don't mean to. It just happens. I added 40,000 words to The First Nine between the first and second draft. But because of this, I need to keep the old draft to reference. I don't think it means you can't let go. I think it means you understand that holding onto what used to be can help you sometimes. I know there are times when I have a problem in the new draft, but I've deleted the old scene and can't remember something. So what do I do? I reference the old draft. 


Writing is a part of who you are, and just because a sentence you're proud of writing doesn't make it into the final cut doesn't mean you can't keep it. Just means that story couldn't use it. Maybe somewhere else can, or it's a good line you can look through and read sometimes to remember how the old draft used to be. 


Eve-Anne Griffin
Posted: Monday, February 24, 2014 10:41 AM
Exactly!  There's that affirmation I was looking for:  we are not crazy.  Thankshappy
LeeAnna Holt
Posted: Monday, February 24, 2014 3:43 PM
Joined: 4/30/2011
Posts: 662

I add too. I just cut all the stuff that needs to be cut and add what needs to be added. It's usually world building information and motive clarification. You should end up doing both. I underwrite, but I still ended up chopping out irrelevant info that did nothing for my story.
Eve-Anne Griffin
Posted: Monday, February 24, 2014 6:15 PM
Considering I cut 40,000 words from my original ms and it's still 106K, I'd say I overwrite.  And yet, that's probably an understatement.
LeeAnna Holt
Posted: Tuesday, February 25, 2014 12:45 AM
Joined: 4/30/2011
Posts: 662

My manuscript is going to be in the 200k ball park when I'm done. Since the genre is epic fantasy, then I'll be fine.
Eve-Anne Griffin
Posted: Tuesday, February 25, 2014 2:17 PM
Ahhhh, fantasy.  I wish I had the creativity for that genre.  Love to read it.  Can't write it.

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