Friday, August 12, 2011

What Was Written Can Be Unwritten

I was looking at a first draft of a story.  Words - all those beautiful letters and still my favourite key on the keyboard has become delete!

Delete - no! 

They're beautiful words I remind myself, as I always do, and you wrote them.  They should not be deleted.

Maybe, possibly, they're the best combination of words that the universe has ever seen.  I caress them by repeating them through a number of variations.  Yep, proven - no one could have written it better.

Wait - no serious, wait a few weeks. Do they age well?

Maybe age reveals their flaws.  Maybe this isn't the best sentence, paragraph, page, chapter ever written.  Maybe someone, anyone could have written it better.  Maybe that conversation between characters was completely unnecessary.  Maybe the heroine's last sentence now screams ridiculous.  Maybe that villain has become a familiar cutout and you can almost see that penciled in black mustache that curls like a misguided shoelace on either side of his lips. 

What fool wrote those words?  You know you did because you loved them at the time.  And maybe you still do.  But maybe...   they're not the vintage that's ready to age like fine wine in the cask or survive under an editorial hand.

Delete those words.  Do it!  Because usually that's when everything comes together and when the magic happens.  Delete - and not just a cut and save for later - some characters shouldn't live to see daylight, and not because they're vampires, and some words were just never meant to exist together on the same page.  There are other words waiting, better words that anyone would want to read, words that make characters you'd want to know.

Delete - some days it's your best friend. 


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