As you may know, I’m in revision mode.
Right now I’m focusing on a picture book, mostly because the process is a lot faster with 1,000 words.
So I’m in the midst of a draft, looking to accomplish two or three key things, and suddenly it occurs to me that I’m jumping the shark. And it’s a terrifying moment.
“Waaaait a second,” I tell myself. “Hold on here.”
With a chill, I look back over my page and see that I’ve made my edit, but in the process I’ve pursued a tangent (adding 35 words! GASP!) introduced new thematic messages and indulged in other total nonsense (like changing the title to correspond to the new thematic messages – Really? REALLY?).
I had to remind myself – you’re not making a new story. You’re making a better story. You’re polishing, not renovating (or in this case, adding out-buildings).
It’s subtle – a softening of your word choice, a plural versus a singular. You’ve done the sculpting with the chain saw, this is the refinement with small-grit sandpaper.
Even if an edit involves introducing a new layer or storyline for one of your characters – something that will have an impact all the way along – you need to hold onto the original story thread. You need to braid the new stuff into what you’ve already done – otherwise it won’t be a strengthening, it will be a splintering.
So what did I do? I pulled back from the brink, used the delete button pretty generously, cut the new flab, and reinstated the title.
Then I sat back and sighed in relief.
Beware the shark.