Delete, Delete, Delete

Did you hear that?

*screams*

That folks is the sound of thirteen thousand words being deleted. Such a great start to Nano huh? Writing this reunion story has been like pushing the proverbial excrement up the proverbial hill and yesterday I was going to give up the whole story in complete disgust and wander around wailing and rending my garments. But in a last ditch effort, I followed a bit of advice handed out by CPs and a few lovely blog readers, and wrote a scene that occured in the past – the black moment where my couple’s earlier relationship broke up.

Now this, my friends, is a most excellent way to go and if you are having conflict issues and can’t work out a character’s history, writing it out is extremely helpful. Of course, in writing out this particular scene, it has resulted in the loss of 13k. So perhaps helpful isn’t quite the right word. Still, better to know the problem now than in another 40k or so when I would have to rewrite the entire story.

Anyway, the problem was I had started the story in the wrong place and made the hero do something he wouldn’t, thereby creating a lot of complex backstory, with lots of offstage revelations, just to get him to do what I wanted him to do. I thought he realised breaking up with the heroine the first time round was a mistake but it wasn’t until I wrote out some of his past that I realised that he didn’t think it was a mistake. He thought he did the right thing. And it’s not until he meets her again that he realises he didn’t.

And so I’m having to start the entire story again. It sounds horrendous to get rid of all those words and it is, but the start I had won’t work with the conflict now, and if I keep going with it in its current form, the entire story will probably fall to pieces. Probably. I don’t actually know of course until I start writing it but one thing I am certain of, if the story feels too hard to write then there is a problem with it.

Still, depressing start to the month I have to say. Anyone have other depressing deletion stories?

On a happier note, big congrats to Leah, winner of the New Voices comp! Fabulous news, m’dear. We’ll have lots to celebrate next RWAus huh?

13 thoughts on “Delete, Delete, Delete”

  1. Biggest deletion? 50k. Last year’s Harlequin Presents Competition. Well, okay that’s a cheat-y answer because I didn’t really delete it – it’s still sitting in my “Shame” folder but I probably will delete it.

    My wise old Mum always says that no mistake is ever wasted time or effort if you learn from it. Your story will be much stronger for your deletion (even if it tore your insides out to do it).

    BTW loved the image of you wailing and tearing your clothes. All you need now is a bit of teeth gnashing and you’ll have covered the Big Three! Best of luck with the NaNo biz.

  2. Elissa – yeah, I’ve got deletions that big too. Hard huh? But your mum is quite right, it’s not wasted effort at all. And hey, one of my CPs just told me about Shirley Jump who writes the first three chapters of her ms to get to know the characters, then she throws them away and starts again. I figured that’s what I’m doing. 🙂

  3. Well if it’s good enough for Shirley….:)

    Just think how many women world wide are going to fall for your dishy Hero because now they’ll understand his motivation more and the black moment will be more powerful which means the HEA will be to die for!

    Repeat after me: I’m a brave girl and a great writer.

  4. Lol! I’m a brave girl and a great writer. 😉 Can I also add: and one day an editor will buy my book.
    If my hero ever makes it to the sale stage of course. And if I can make his motivation clear enough! Sigh…

  5. Big deletions are always so painful. I cringed just reading about that 13K lol! I’m hoping that after a while I just become desensitized to it and can hit that delete button without blinking 😉

  6. Lacey – well, to be honest, it wasn’t that hard. It’s kind of easy to let go of stuff that isn’t working. Am now 3.5k into the new one and it’s MUCH better so I think it was a good decision.

  7. “Ack” to deletions I say! But I did read once that you should never “delete” as such – but put them in a folder marked “crud” – because today’s crud might just be tomorrows “ahha” moment – if you see where I’m going with this rambling of course! Caroline x

  8. 13K sounds about right for a complete rewrite. I wonder how many of us realize how many words we delete and rework during revisions. It’s probably a lot more than 13k.

    Good luck with this version! I can’t wait to hear how happy you are with the results!!

  9. Caroline – I like the folder named crud!! Lol! No, I never actually delete them, they go into what I call an ‘out takes’ folder and then I reuse bits that I like.

    Cat – sometimes my out takes document for an ms is the same word count as the ms itself! Some times it’s more. So really, it’s not a 50k ms, it’s a 100k!

  10. Argh, Jackie, I feel your pain. I too have done 50K *deletes* and I pretty much always have to chuck my first version or two of the 1st three chapters. I rewrote the beginning of the Russian 3x. I wrote the FULL of the sheikh 3x…gah.

    You are not alone. 😉

  11. Maisey – I think rewriting is a good skill to learn. As is realising where you’re going wrong. And look what happened to your rewrites! Don’t know what will happen with this one but it’s coming together MUCH better.

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