The Joys of The Delete Button

Yeah, that’s right…the delete button.

I have been good friends with it of late…so much so that I think my CP is seriously considering removing it from my computer. Now don’t get me wrong – it is important to be able to delete your words, rearrange them, cut and trim.

But sometimes, I do it in the extreme, letting my internal editor get into the game FAR TOO EARLY.

This deletion started while I was doing a major revision on my last novel. Part of my brain was obsessing on my WiP (I know, shocking that I would obsess on anything, right), stewing on the storyline. During that phase of stewage, it hit me…

I am telling that story ALL WRONG!

Dangitall.

Nevermind that I am over 20K into it, it’s wrong

Wrong wrong wrong.

So, what’s a girl to do but delete. A lot.

It started last Friday. I opened the document to start over. I read the 20K I had. My heart tore open…it was pretty good. Not perfect, not polished…

But it was great raw material.

But still, I was telling the story WRONG.

I opened a blank document and stared at the page, ready to restart the entire story. Delete my words – all of them – and just start fresh.

I stared.

And stared.

And stared.

Nothing….

I couldn’t seem to write a thing.

So I opened my chat box and talked with my writerly BFF.

“Whatcha working on?” she asked.

“PS. Gonna start over. From a blank page.”

This statement elicited a series of “dude!” and “not again” and “I am seriously taking your deleting button away.”

See, I have deleted the initial 10K to this story probably 500 times so far. Really. Which is my she was pretty adamant about not deleting AGAIN.

After chatting and procrastinating for a few minutes (maybe more than a “few” minutes), I went back to my blank document and employed my fav form of torture….Dr. Wicked. I wrote for 30 minutes and voila, a new beginning. It was messy, rough and needed LOTS of polishing…

But the document was no longer blank.

I then went back through the 20K and decided to stop being so “all-or-nothing” with it. I broke it into scenes, re-outlined the book (yes, I’m a planner) and figured out where I could use the words.

Guess what…I COULD use them. Pretty much ALL of them.

Whew!!! What a relief. Instead of a zero word count, I still had my 20K…and a clear plan of where to go with the story – how to tell it correctly.

Needless to say, I am excited about the project once again…excited to finish it, polish it, and let it loose on the world. My new goal, finish the rough draft in the next few weeks. Of course, polishing will take a while…but getting the rough draft done in September would be HUGE.

Have you ever deleted HUGE amounts of your projects? Did you use any of those words somewhere else?

19 thoughts on “The Joys of The Delete Button

  1. Actually I have used deleted material in another project. So thankful I kept it in a Workboard folder. I have a sign on my printer that reads, ‘Tell the editor in your head to ‘SHUT-UP’. I need to read it every-so-often.

  2. I’m trying to decide what to do with my first chapter. Beta said leave it, he thinks it works. Me? It’s not strong enough and needs work. Add in a few chapters that I know without a doubt will be deleted and I’m procrastinating like you wouldn’t believe.

    I know I have a strong story. I can see the weak points and where I need to tighten it up. Nobody but a writer knows how hard that can be. Words, even the bad ones – still took time and heart to write. (Hugs)Indigo

  3. LOL exactly, Dude! No more deletes!!😀 I usually end up deleting vast portions of my manuscripts at some point. But I always save the deleted material and can usually find a spot for at least some of it somewhere. Sometimes even in another manuscript😀

  4. Benoit

    !!!!

    Sooo, I really love discovering your inside author’s world !
    I just did not imagine the lot of (hard) work it is to write a book…

    Best regards

  5. Congrats for figuring out how to keep your words!

    Oh, yes, it is EXTREMELY important to have a balanced relationship with the delete button. As of yet, I’ve been unable to delete huge portions–like pages and pages–bue will trim a short chapter here or a lengthy paragraph there. Plus, I have done a general overhauling of dialogue.

    Something strange, though. As hard as it is to let words go, it is liberating and refreshing at the same time.

  6. ….
    You’ve been deleting this whole time? o.O
    *sobs*

    I usually don’t end up having to delete. But there was one time earlier this year when I was writing a book based off a fairy tale. I got 25k in. Realized I was sticking too close to the fairy tale and not letting my characters have free reign.

    That story is now in the “Extras” folder. The story I was trying to tell was the wrong one. >.<

  7. Dude! I’m so glad you worked out the issues, and are moving forward. I think that’s what’s the hardest part about deleting. It feels like you’re moving backward. But sometimes it fuels good forward motion.🙂

  8. Yay! Go you! It’s hard to keep going when you know it’s wrong. I feel you. Except maybe more so since I’m about 65K into mine and am going back to start over because I’m telling the story all wrong. You KNOW what it needs to be. The hardest part is getting going when you realize what you’ve just signed up for, but I’m glad you got through it!

  9. I hate to delete. I usually wait until I rewrite completely and am happy with what I wrote before deleting a single word. I’m panicked that if I delete something, I’ll want it back and never be able to recreate it.

  10. I have a manuscript from which I’ve deleted roughly 120K words. Eeeeep! So, yeah, it was huge to start, but it’s really almost an entirely new manuscript now. And I’m still working on it. sometimes, you just do what you have to do to make a story great (and salable!)

    Keep going! I’m so glad things are looking up with the manuscript. What a releif to have a plan laid out.

  11. I can so relate. My current WIP has a “3.0” after the title to distinguish it from the 1.0 and 2.0 versions also sitting on my hard drive. I’m hoping to never see a 4.0.

  12. LOL I’m deleting HUGE amounts now from my wip, but that’s because there was a slight change in the plot that caused a snowball effect. Fortunately I am cutting so much out. I’ve just added 9 new scenes, which would have pushed the word count higher than I want it to go.😉

  13. You and me, lady! I recently deleted almost 40K words because I realized I had the story all wrong. What’s coming out now is pretty much crap, but it feels good to be writing the RIGHT stuff, ya know? I can fix it up later, but at least I’m back on the yellow brick road.😉

  14. I’m so happy you kept your words and modified. That’s great! And I’m glad you mentioned Dr. Wicked. I’ve never heard of that before, and it sounds like it’s perfect tool for someone like me (I’m easily distracted with email and twitter). Thank you!

    When I did delete huge chunks from my last book, I saved them in another document. They were out of my way, but not gone forever. With my current wip, I’m not deleting a single thing until I’ve finished my first draft. We’ll see how it goes!

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