Tracking the Tempest Revisions Diary: Day 3

So I had to do what must be the most painful thing possible in revisions: I had to cut a whole storyline, which meant I had to cut MY FAVORITE CHAPTER. 

Why do I love the chapter? It’s pure fun. It also has a character that I adore, and that only appears in this one scene. The chapter also has some of the best lines, I think, in the novel.  

But it had to go.  Why? Because my editor asked me a question about why a certain character was in a certain place, and I couldn’t think of an answer. My motivation was that I’d raised an issue in Tempest Rising that I wanted to address, here. The problem, however, was that the entire time I’d been writing, I knew I was making compromises in the book’s logic in order to get Jane interacting with this certain character in this certain place.

I learned doing my thesis how much I can lie to myself. I learned that if I like an idea or a source or a particular line, I will wedge it in, come hell or high water. I will assure myself that, whatever it is, it fits, and then I wait for my supervisor, at that time, and now, at this time, my editor, to tell me it’s okay. Which, of course, they never do. I’m not trying to be perverse. I’m not thinking to myself, “Ha! I will slide this one past them and they will never notice!” But I think that, subconsciously, that is exactly what I’m trying to do. I want them to read it and reassure me that it is GENIUS, rather than a mistake. Even though I know, in my bones, that it is, indeed, a problem.

I really wanted Jane to interact with this character and to be taken around this character’s world. So I wedged the storyline in, even though doing so forced me to make rather ridiculous connections and to insist Jane would be places it really didn’t make sense for her to be.

Until, of course, my editor asked me why and I couldn’t lie to myself anymore. Now I’m cutting the whole shebang. I’m not deleting it, mind you. It will always be in the folder called “Tracking the Tempest Draft 3,” and the underlying issue at the core of these scenes is still in place in the series. And, eventually, this character’s backstory will need to be addressed. But not in this book, and not now.

The big chop hurt; it really did. But once the decision to excise the story line was made, it was a huge relief. I know the book will be stronger, and that these deleted scenes will be recycled somewhere else, where they’ll shine rather than hinder.

So my lesson for today, boys and girls, is that you shouldn’t be afraid of the big chop. Just like with lopping off your hair, it can be liberating. And you can always grow it back. 😉

Thanks!

5 thoughts on “Tracking the Tempest Revisions Diary: Day 3”

  1. It hurts, doesn't it? Stephen King calls these moments "killing your darlings." I'm having to kill a lot them right now too, and I keep telling myself it's not murder–it's euthanasia.

  2. Yes, I keep all my chopped bits in a running file for later resurrection. We had a great time. She got me drunk and Orbit paid, what's not to love?

  3. Euthanasia…ha, I like that. Yeah I think it's really hard to kill those darlings. We've all got folders or notebooks with them stuck somewhere. Some of them are actual gems that will find a home. Some of them–well I go back and think "why did I think this was so awesome?"

    I'm in a similar boat with my own WIP at the moment–it's not so much that I was cutting what's already written as I cut out an idea that two events were connected (because I was trying to force a connection and it JUST WASN'T WORKING). As soon as I realized that they had nothing to do with each other (even though the heroine thinks that they do), everything else started falling into place.

  4. Jaye: YAY for company expense inebriation!

    Kait: You're better than me. I just shove it in, make it fit, and then wait, wincing, to be caught out. Which I am, inevitably. So you're good for recognizing what's not fitting and cutting it.

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