I finished the chapter I needed to turn in to a publisher this week. The thing that took the longest and was most painful was cutting it down. I tend to repeat myself in my writing and throw in things I find amusing or interesting that, if I’m honest/realistic, no one else would care about. Here’s an example, a funny bit I cut out because, um, it just didn’t fit in the end. It didn’t add anything to the chapter except humor:
My wife is a mild hypochondriac. And for this reason I don’t like the internet.
If her neck is stiff, if her tongue is a different shade of pink, she visits one of those be-your-own-doctor sites. It quickly analyzes her list of symptoms and then displays a few of the possible illnesses she may be afflicted with – ordered from most heinous to least.
Entering head ache, back pain and fatigue she soon discovers she has the Ebola virus, gonorrhea or an allergy to dairy.
I’ve noticed that any set of symptoms actually will yield a list containing the Ebola virus.
Dry skin? Ebola virus. Watery eyes? Ebola virus. Acne? Ebola virus.
Where was I going with this? Well, it’s a tenuous connection at best but the connection was: Every thing that is “wrong with the world,” no matter how small a symptom it may be, leads us back to the same diagnosis, the same disease: The Fall.
A stretch I know. That’s why it got deleted.
If you write, how do you edit? How do you go about deciding what stays and what goes? And do you do most of your editing as you write or write all you can and want to and then, in the end, go back and edit?