The First Cut is the Deepest.

The day finally arrived! I received my manuscript back from my editor. Taking a deep breath, I dove in, ready to work. Page one, a comma needed. Page two, a question mark replaced the misplaced period. I read on, make a few changes, knock out some prepositional phrases, substituted stronger verbs. In my mind, I’m thinking, “What’s the big deal about edits? Why was I so nervous? This isn’t bad at all.”

And then three-fourth of the way through, I see this: The introspection is getting tedious and redundant.

Did you hear that thud? That was my heart sinking. Hmm. I decide to keep going and ponder on the changes that might need to occur. And then this: Trim some of this or I might hack what you love.

I feel like Fred Sanford from Sanford and Son, clutching my chest. Hack my baby? This book is part of me. She’s killing me. My first book will never be published because I’m having a heart attack.

The Devoted Hubby walks in the room. “What’s that weird, hissing noise?”

I make a mental note to sign him up for first aid classes. “Nothing. Don’t mind me, I’m dying.”

“Okay. Holler if you need anything.” He leaves to putter in his man-cave, oblivious to my distress.

I re-adjust my glasses and forge ahead. Ten pages from the end I find a longer note: This scene should be climatic. It goes nowhere and I don’t feel it is needed. It dilutes the previous scene.

“What?” I scream at my computer. My hero just did the big reveal! It was intense and full of gut-wrenching emotion! While my paranormal book is full of humor with a bad boy angel, it deals with some deep, dark issues. Mental Illness. Suicide. Shame. Fear. This scene she wants me to cut provides some comic relief. Not to mention it features one of the best side characters I’ve ever written… I mean he’s the devil. He’s gorgeous and snarky and in my mind, when it’s made into a movie, he will be portrayed by Alex Skarsgård, for heaven’s sake. How can I cut him? Noooooo, say it ain’t so!

Luckily, I have a terrific support group of author friends. And I’m old enough to listen. I stepped away and thought about it. Sure, I love that scene. But my editor is right. It leads nowhere and made the previous scene anti-climatic when it is the crux of the book. During 2014 Nanowrimo I hammered out a rough draft for the companion book to this one. They are both stand alone stories, but some of the characters appear in both books. My wonderful, acerbic, gorgeous devil is one of the major players in the second book. I remember as I wrote it thinking, “Damn, I used that line in the other book.” Guess what? Yep, now he can say them for the first time in his own story.

However, I’m not going to lie. It’s hard to cut words you have painstakingly and lovingly crafted together to tell your story. Taking a deep breath, I highlighted the scene and then copied and pasted it into my slush pile of extras. I hit delete. Going back to the beginning, I started re-reading, re-editing and re-writing. And as I looked for redundancy, new words flowed, making my characters stronger, deeper. I inserted more humor to temper the angst. And when I finished the first round of edits, I found myself moved by my own story. Hopefully, my editor will agree.

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4 thoughts on “The First Cut is the Deepest.

  1. Pingback: The First Cut is the Deepest. | Author Michael Charton

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