During my editing process, I catch myself skipping parts of my manuscript I don’t like or parts where I feel stupid reading them. Then I ask myself – what the heck are they doing in my story then? If it’s boring, awkward, unrealistic, or cheesy, why is it part of my story? Deciding whether the part needs to be completely taken out, rewritten, or slightly changed requires a few steps/questions summarized in the following points:
- What is the purpose of this scene? Does it drive the plot? If yes, edit or consider a rewrite. Either the scene is underdeveloped and too short, or it is longwinded and needs to be cut to the necessities. If the story makes perfect sense without that scene, then it needs to be removed.
- Can the scene’s message and purpose be communicated in a different way? For example, introducing my character David is an important scene of course; but the way I show him in his home and with his family is something I want to change just because I don’t like reading it. I have to change it so it feels right. Somehow.
NO YAWNING ALLOWED
If you don’t enjoy enjoy writing a scene, your readers won’t enjoy reading it. If you think a part is boring, why is it in your story? You don’t want a boring part. Your readers will notice.
- Identify boring scenes.
- Evaluate their importance.
- If they are important, edit or rewrite. Unimportant scenes need to be eliminated.
I hate deleting scenes. I feel like I wrote them for a purpose and it feels wrong to take them out, but being drastic and brave is part of the writing process. (And don’t delete your scenes entirely. I have a “Deleted Scenes” document where I keep writing I throw out. Just in case.)
What parts of your novel did you delete because it wasn’t driving your plot? What do you do with boring parts? Do you find yourself deleting them or editing them?