If you’ve ever agonized over deleting a sentence, paragraph or whole chapter, but know it’s what you need to, there may be relief.
Not always, not even often, but every once in a while, you can reincarnate the darling you had to kill.
In a previous post, I described how identifying the fixed points in my novel – the scenes that absolutely must happen – helped me see how one unessential chapter severely limited my story. Killing a darling scene and the whole chapter that led up to it was what I needed to do.
New plot possibilities made it easier to let go, but I haven’t actually gotten to the point of deleting the chapter from the draft. I have removed the scene card from my story deck and eliminated it from my table of contents. I let it die in my imagination; I no longer think of that scene as part of my book.
Last week, I found new hope for all of us who suffer from revision angst — I discovered that darlings can spontaneously reincarnate.
I didn’t start a new scene to replace the deleted darling. I wasn’t looking to shoehorn dialogue and backstory from the scene into some other scene. If I had, I would’ve been trying to re-animate a dead darling, instead of letting it die and reincarnate. And we all know how well reanimation worked for Dr. Frankenstein.
While dreamstorming a completely new scene, I heard my new POV character Kat talking with her Uncle Mick. Valuable information and character development emerged in their dialogue and actions.
Then out of the blue, I heard Mick say something about the deleted backstory. I wasn’t forcing anything; the dialogue flowed naturally in my imagination and later onto the page. Kat got the information she — and the reader — need from just the right person at the right time.
I was ecstatic. This unexpected gift re-energized my drafting. The new scene won’t include all the backstory I originally drafted into the darling scene. I’ll need to be picky about what to keep.
But then, being picky about what to keep is what revision is all about.