Progress for progress’ sake has plagued more than one author. We like to call it “editing” when it’s really treachery and betrayal. Not just to ourselves, but to our dreams.
My Redemption Series was originally designed to be a trilogy, admittedly an epic one. The beginning was dull background with sparks of action when I decided to start the story in the middle of the adventure. 20,000+ words in and I didn’t want it as a trilogy, I wanted it as a series. My characters had developed and essentially forced me to give them the time and consideration they deserved. In a flash of epiphany, I knew the background information just needed the personality upgrades my characters had developed.
Enter the importance of truly deleting nothing. I had around 5000 words I had decided no longer had a place in my novel. 5000+ words that really just needed me to be at a stage where I understood my characters and their motivations well enough to give it the slant it needed to capture me the way I hope it will readers. I was lucky enough I live in paralyzing fear of losing anything I might need and had saved it in another file, but many people don’t.
How many versions do you have of your novel? Some people edit as they go, some wait until the end and give it a break before they review, others still have a complex intricate spiral process that puts the “ha” in “organized chaos” (I know it’s the wrong sound, but bear with me). The one element they all of in common is getting rid of the bleh in exchange for publishing gold, but sometimes people make the mistake of thinking something needs to be deleted when it needs to be edited and vice versa.
The best part is when you reflect and wish you’d kept something, a phrase or entire chapter, but you have to suffer through a writers block that is really just a grasping memory. It’s almost like waking up to a brilliant solution for your novel’s problem only to feel the light airy fade of it vanishing before you can get pen to paper. The difference is, this is easily preventable.
It’s a simple step, really just a few extra clicks. Before any heavy handed editing, save your novel under a different name and maybe even in a different file, a cloud program, or a flash drive or all of the above. I have a flash drive entitled “Archives”, it held all of my files for the past four years whether academic, personal, or professional. I lost it (a basic way of describing hours of anguish, drinking, hunting, and continued disappointment). All of the files I used in the past 18 months though, were saved in another location I still had access to and that fact is what helped me not break my stride under the wave of renewed passion.
Not everything is perfection or redeemable and you will delete some things to never be seen again. Perfect. Knowing you’re not infallible is how you how get closer to creating your best novel, a never-ending aspiration. However, you today is not you tomorrow. At some point, you will change your mind, human nature and all that. Make sure you are able to choose, decide again as tomorrow, and do yourself the favor of deleting nothing. Save and savor your progress.
What do you think? Do you disagree completely? Have you ever had a situation like the one I described where you regretted deleting something and either did or didn’t have access to it? Respond below.