At one point in my writing career, I was paralyzed by the editing process. What if I changed a scene, or even just a paragraph in my work-in-progress, and realized I’d made a terrible mistake? What if my original words were lost forever? I have the same problem shredding old documents and bills. What if I need that bill from 2004 someday? Totally unrealistic, but still…
I started creating versions of my work – Version #1, Version #2 etc., but that got very confusing. I ended up with multiple copies of the same work, and sometimes I wasn’t sure which was the best or most recent, even if I dated it. It meant the editing process was painful and totally inefficient.
Finally, I came up with the idea of creating a “leftover” file for each book as I’m editing. Any time I’m going to remove a scene or change it in a major way, I make a copy of the original scene and put it in my leftover file. That way I’m free to change or delete, knowing that if I change my mind I still have the original.
Of course this all a mind game. Usually the revised/edited scene is much better than the original and I never look back. I can remember only one time, in the course of writing at least six books, when I actually went back to my leftover file and used a scene. Even then it was reworked.
But somehow this little mind game I play makes editing easier for me, so I’ll continuing playing. Like they say, if it works, don’t fix it.
Here’s a chunk of writing preserved in my leftover file from my humorous contemporary romance ALWAYS A BRIDESMAID. I believe I cut this scene because it came too early in the story. I wanted to leave Dani’s decision hidden until later in the book:
The ill-fitting bridesmaid dress had also convinced her to go ahead with the breast reduction surgery she’d been thinking about for years. She’d hated her over large breasts ever since they’d made their sudden appearance when she was fourteen. Boys had teased her relentlessly, and other girls laughed at her. As an adult, men leered at her. She had to wear extra support athletic bras, and when jogging she had to wear one bra one top of the other to keep from bouncing up and down like a kiddie castle. Finding clothes that fit properly was impossible without tailoring. Her chest was disproportionately large compared to the rest of her petite stature, giving her a lopsided appearance.
Still, having the surgery was something she didn’t take lightly. She’d researched thoroughly and decided it was the best course of action.
Would Zach look at her differently after the surgery? Would he think her more attractive?
She brushed the thought aside. She was doing this for herself, not for any man. Not even Zach.