Wednesday, June 5, 2013


Another first Wednesday of the month means another IWSG post. Thanks, as always, to Alex Cavanaugh for hosting the group. Please hop over to Alex's blog list and check out the blogs who participate.

In the old testament book of Exodus of the King James Bible Pharaoh commanded “Every Hebrew boy that is born (you) must throw into the Nile, but let every girl live.” But there was a young Levite mother who after giving birth to a male child decided to defy the law and hid him for three months. When she could no longer hide him she set him afloat in a waterproof basket where he was rescued by the Pharaoh's daughter, raised in the palace and then later freed his people from slavery. This month brings us halfway through 2013 and provides me with another worry along the revision process... Can I Kill My Babies?

In High School I loved Stephen King even though reading his novels made me sleep with a light on until I got married. As a writer, I've grown to respect his work even more. In traveling through this process of revision I came across this quote from him:

“When your story is ready for rewrite, cut it to the bone. Get rid of every ounce of excess fat. This is going to hurt; revising a story down to the bare essentials is always a little like murdering children, but it must be done.”

During my first revision I had no trouble slashing, cutting, and drop kicking characters, scenes, and entire story lines out of my novel. Unfortunately during this third revision I am discovering that cutting the story has gotten a lot tougher. Not only is it tougher, I've begun to second guess myself. "Should I have taken that out? Should I add that back in? Is the story to weak? Too confusing? Too fat? To skinny?" Augh! I'm trying to keep in mind what novelist and screenwriter Elmore Leonard said: If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it. But after all this time it's all beginning to sound like writing! I guess I need to quit worrying and take the advice of Helen Simpson:“Shut up and get on with it.” But I can't help wondering if that 'child' I've just murdered was the one who could have actually saved me.

What about you? How are your insecurities treating you this month? Are you able to Kill Your Babies or do you hide them with the hopes they will one day set you free?

19 comments:

YVONNE LEWIS: said...

My insecurities this month is at an all time high. daughter and son still not speaking I have e/mailed my son but the reply I got I won' t mention. I rang my daughter as I want to discuss something with her , left a message but it was her husband answered and was not very happy. Getting back to your bit about killing babies, I wouldn't go that far with my offsprings but I do despair. at least I have one who
who speaks.......he lives in Spain.
Still one has to think positive.
Yvonne.

S.P. Bowers said...

When I get like that, second guessing myself and unable to see the story for the words, the best thing for me is to take a break from it. Sometimes a little time apart is the best way to gain perspective.

I cut some of them with ease, knowing they don't progress the story. But some of them, the ones that I wrote first, that helped introduce me to the story, or that are just very touching or beautiful to me are harder. Sometimes, even though I know I'll have to cut it, I'll leave it in an extra revision, just so I don't have to say good buy yet. Though, maybe that's why it takes me so long to write anything.

Julie Flanders said...

Revision is such a hard thing to do! Like SP, I find taking a break helps when I get like this. It often helps to be able to look at the story again with fresh eyes. Best of luck with your revising!

Brinda said...

Oh, I much rather add story than cut. Those words an characters are hard to come by! My editor wants me to cut a character from my current MS. :)

Brinda said...

That was supposed to be "I'd much rather."

Excuse my iPhone errors. :)

Laura said...

It's so hard to tell whether you should cut something or not. I always think you must have had a reason to cut it out in the first place, so it was probably the right thing to do.

Morgan said...

Kill your darlings!!!! It really is such great advice. Even though it's HARD. ;-)

nutschell said...

I can totally relate. I'm preparing for another round of revision right now. I think I'm better about "Killing my darlings" although I do hide them away hoping to resurrect them one day --maybe for another project.
Nutschell
www.thewritingnut.com

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

You could always get the second opinion of a critique partner if you're not sure.
I'm such a bare bones writer, it's rare I have to cut anything. Don't worry, that comes with its own set of problems.

Mark Means said...

That's a totally valid insecurity. What to cut?
How much to cut?
How much is too much...not enough?

If we had all the answers, it'd take all the fun out of the process :)

Scribbles From Jenn said...

Yvonne, I've been reading all about this on your blog and am so sorry for you. I hope your kids wake-up to the blessing you are to them soon.

Good advice, S.P., I probably should take a break. But then I worry because I have the same problem with taking too long to write things.

Thank you, Julie. I need all the luck I can get.

Brinda, I love adding more, more, more. Which is why I need to cut, cut, cut. Good luck trying to kill that character. Who knew writing actually involved murder?

Thanks, Laura, you are probably right. Second guessing oneself is always a bad idea.

Morgan, I'm coming to the realization that less, in the way of characters, is more.

Thanks, Nutschell. I won't kill them I'll just freeze them in carbonite, like Han Solo, and keep them as trophies for later.

Alex, I need to be more of a bare bones writer.

Hahaha, Mark! I think I could do with a little less *fun* in this process.

Sherry Ellis said...

"Like murdering little children" - that sounds like something Stephen King would say!

Laura Eno said...

Oh, yeah! It does all sound like writing at this point. I have such a hard time trying to see my stories through a reader's eyes. I already know what will happen next, am analyzing every nuance,...
I loved the older Stephen King books but his newer ones scare me too much!

shelly said...

I just worry that I'll never meet my deadline when I begin the rewrites.

Lexa Cain said...

This is SO TRUE! Sometimes you cut things out but on subsequent passes it starts feeling a little empty or confusing, and you wonder if you need to put some things back in. Perhaps it's possible to revise too much. When you honestly can't tell what's good or bad anymore, it's a pretty sure sign you're done. :-)

jaybird said...

OH I totally agree, cutting scenes is so painful, like cutting your own arm, I can relate to this!

The first time I read Stephen King was Salem's Lot; that book freaked me out so bad, I literally threw it across my room, and was too afraid to pick it back up until daylight!!!

Lynda R Young said...

When I start to second guess myself, I have to take a break from the manuscript. I need time to step back from it so when I return, I have a clearer vision of it.

Empty Nest Insider said...

Sorry the revisions process is so frustrating. Just think how relieved you'll be when you get through it, and it will all be worthwhile in the end.

Julie

Scribbles From Jenn said...

Sherry, yes, very Stephen King-ish.

Laura, I don't read his new stuff either.

Shelly, yikes! I hadn't even thought about deadlines. Now I have something new to add to my writing insecurities.

Lexa, I fear taking out too much and adding in the wrong stuff. I hope to get done soon.

Jaybird, Stephen King books should come with a 'Read during daylight hours only' disclaimer.

Lynda, stepping back does help. I've been away and have to get back to it now.

Empty Nest Insider , I am looking forward to being done and the feeling of relief.

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