To Cut or Not to Cut

I’m sorry, readers. I have nothing to offer you at the moment. No words of wisdom, or stories of personal revelation. No thought provoking enigmas or tales of triumph. With this post, I’m hoping you might have something to offer me. I need advice!

The blogging gods have not been speaking to me lately. I have had a really hard time making any progress with the posts I have lined up; partly because I’m anxious to move home in a short couple of months, but mostly because I am in the midst of re-working my novel.

Am I the only writer who does this? I write like a champ for about the first 10 chapters. And then I decide to change aspects of the story that require me to restart from scratch. I’ve probably done this 4 or 5 times already with this novel. I promised myself that this draft would be the one I would write to completion. I even have the reminder in my header ‘No restarts allowed! Just keep writing!’ But here I am again, with an uncompleted first draft and a promising, new outline that would make much of the scenes I’ve written unneeded. I’m starting to wonder if my edit-as-I-go approach isn’t self-sabotage in disguise.

But, here’s the thing. The story hasn’t derailed (yet), it’s actually enhanced with each restart. With each major edit, my story and characters are more solidly developed. Still I find myself extremely frustrated by the lack of tangible progress after over a year of writing!

I really want to have a whole, beginning-to-end draft completed by November, before our big move, but after 19 chapters this draft it starting to feel redundant and I’m getting the urge to restart again. I just hate to see that my ‘cut scenes’ folder is larger than my actual novel.

I am open to suggestions and advice from any writers out there who have been through this before! Do you edit as you go? Or do you write an entire draft before editing/reworking? Did you ever feel like you might be a crazy person tapping away madly at an empty screen?

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5 comments

  1. With my novel that’s coming out shortly, I edited as I went. And then I had a manuscript critique done that uncovered many plot holes. Now I am a firm outliner. I want all the details hashed out before I actually start writing my new WIP, so that I don’t go through the mess I went through before. Then I will write the first draft straight through before editing. I found that I was never getting anywhere when I edited as I went.

    But that’s just what I learned for myself. That technique may not work for everyone.

    Good luck! I think we can all feel your pain. 🙂

    1. I find it hard to reach that balance between letting creativity flow and following my outline. I write a pretty thorough outline that I think is great, and then as I write it out, I start to see plot holes and divert from my plan. I want so badly to just write it from start to finish so I have something to show for all of the hours spent. I’m really hoping that THIS outline will be the one that will take me to the end of the book. I’m going to make sure I write a really in-depth one so I can iron out the plot holes before I start. Thank you so much for sharing your experience. It’s good to know I’m not the only one who’s struggled with this.

      1. Hope it goes well for you. I found the book “Story Engineering” by Larry Brooks to be very helpful.

    2. I just looked it up on amazon and bought it. Thank you!

      1. There’s a fair amount of repetition, but for me, it’s the most useful writing resource I’ve read yet, though I’m sure there are strong pantsers who would disagree. He doesn’t say you have to outline, but he makes a good case for why you should, and he reviews what is critical to include in that outline. I think you’ll like it. Mine is highlighted and dogeared to the max. 🙂

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