I can’t recall who said it, but this quote has proven true: “Words don’t bleed, cut them.”1
Over the past five years I have crafted a story onto the page. Plodded toward the finish line pushing hard for word count, straining for depth and meaning. I rewrote the story twice to make the characters more engaging. I reworked the structure to follow the hero’s journey, carefully adding pace and plot. Eventually, the story was done. Then it came time to give it away to someone else, an editor and publisher, who would look at it with fresh eyes and a steel heart.
When the novel came back, I stared at the corrections. Mountains of corrections. Not just grammatical, but technical, developmental, and logistical. I stared at the page. My heart broke a little. Then I took a deep breath, hit “accept all” and dug in. I cut full scenes. I cut entire plot lines. I cut words, favorite and beloved. I realized then the real truth, that in fact the words did not bleed. Instead, cutting words set the story free.
Now, I am rebuilding. I am happy to find that in the more trim version, the plot is less leaden. The protagonist has purpose, and the story baggage has been left for someone else to claim. I love the story arc more than ever before. I am energized to write again, to create, to live inside my characters.
Perhaps this year will be the one that sees this novel to print. No matter if this draft comes back once again from a second edit with “Try again” written all over it, I know that I will see it through. I will trust the objective view from outsiders. I will trust that the story will only strengthen each time. And I will trust that things cut back, will only return stronger and more beautiful.
1 if anyone knows the source of the title quote please let me know – I’d love to give proper credit.