Making the Cut

I know lots of you writers have encountered this before, but it’s now happened to me for the first time, so I’m going to share my experience.

I did some rewrites for my current WIP. The whole time, I loved the rewrites. I thought they were fantastic, exciting, and all over a great addition to the story. Then I finished the rewrites, and started preparing to go over the entire thing one final time before beginning the query process.

But a strange thing happened between finishing the rewrites, and starting the next edit sweep. I suddenly realized, pretty much out of nowhere, that an entire subplot I’d just rewritten didn’t actually need to be in the story at all. It was a fun addition, but it didn’t add anything to the development of my main character or to the plot of the story, and I knew without even reading over it that the whole thing resolved itself way too quickly.

So, I’ve made the decision to cut the whole subplot. And I think it’s a very good decision. I did some work on the synopsis, and the whole story flows much better, and is more focused, without the subplot. It’s kind of sucky that I literally just wrote about three new chapters for this subplot, in addition to the mentions in other chapters that I’ll be keeping. But I am so happy I had the very sudden and unexpected realization about its worth. I think cutting it is going to make everything stronger.

And all is not lost! I’m saving the bits I’ve written for the future. The story itself is completely standalone, but there is potential to continue the character’s tale in the future, if anyone is ever interested in reading more. And, if so, this subplot would actually make an amazing main plot for that additional story. I would get to flesh it out and resolve it at the correct pace, and that excites me just as much as writing it in the first place did! So all in all, I’m definitely happy with my choice.

I’m curious, though, to know what your experience with cutting major bits of your story has been. Ever done it? And if so, how did you get to that point? Did you have a quick realization like me, or did a reader/agent/man on the street tell you something needed to change? Did you cut with relish, or did you cringe and snip hesitatingly?


  • cleemckenzie

    Oh, yes, to those major overhauls. I once subbed a book with an attempted murder as an integral part of the story. My editor hated it. After I recovered from that shock, I changed it entirely. The story was much better without that part. She was right.

  • Stephanie Faris

    I don't ever save things…I just save the first version in case and start cutting. I'm guessing your instincts are telling you that the book will be stronger for it and you'll be glad in the end.

  • Mere Joyce

    That's interesting you saying that you don't save things, Stephanie, because once I began thinking about it…I never save things, either! I think this is the first time I've ever kept a chunk for future use, but it's only because I know now that it could potentially be used later…if I didn't think that, I'd probably just hit the delete key, and move on, =)

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