Last night I had a long conversation with my hubby (poor hubby) about a scene I’m struggling with while editing the first in my Flora Lively series. I’d made a few structural changes to tighten things up, and the story is working far better, but … then I came to a scene that simply didn’t fit with the new structure. No problem, you might say, just ditch it. Well, if only it were as simple as that!
The scene involved Flora and a puppy, and the puppy provided just the right tone to offset something else that was going on, as well as adding a bit of important conflict. Oh, and did I mention that the puppy is just so cute? But because of changes made to some earlier scenes, there was just no reason for the puppy to be there anymore! I’d have had to invent a whole new reason for her existence, which would have muddied the waters of the entire plot. Not good! After an hour of going round and round the houses trying to figure out how to make it all work, my husband’s advice was: Lose the puppy!
No! I cried. I can’t do it. I’ve spent hours writing that puppy in – and did I mention that it is just so cute …?
This is the essence of editing, particularly structural. To make some parts better other parts will have to be sacrificed, even if the writing is good, and even if the puppy is cute. It’s hard, but necessary, and it’s what separates you as a writer from those who can’t self-edit. I’ve looked at it again today, and the puppy definitely has to go. Even though it was really just so …
(No puppies were harmed in the writing of this blog post. Petal the puppy will be reincarnated in another Flora Lively story, probably book 2.)