• Abigail Linhardt

Chop It. Cut It. Ctrl+A Then "Delete"

Not enough young writers know that sometimes you have to delete the whole thing. You can't fix everything and some things need to be chopped.


I am a huge fan of editing in that I edit for flow, character arcs, plot--that kind of thing. I'll let a missing article slip, a typo pass. Which sucks, but I am not perfect. I am a storyteller first and foremost and a Writer (TM) second. There is a special place in hell for writers (and non-writers) who make fun a writer for a grammar slip up or some small error. You are a jerk, that is all. We all know you are doing it because you want to tear them down (and you should support other writers. See the other blog).


So, editing. Yesterday I finally stopped trying to write my short story, hit command and A (on my Mac) and deleted all 2k words I had written over the span of some very painful weeks. The story was ok, the characters were like a warmed up then dried out tortilla, but the plot was nonexistent. There were some twists and turns but nothing...story-ish. It was so hard to write. Now, some people might say that is writer's block. It's not. I was writing, it was just painful, dull, boring, and I hated it. The issue wasn't that I didn't know what I wanted to write. The issue was I focusing too much on McGuffin of the story. This is partly the fault of the publisher who gave a McGuffin as the writing prompt. But we are writers and are supposed to be creative and hopefully see beyond that.


I finally did. By the grace of God, I got fresh inspiration and deleted everything. The drab characters now have more, well, character. The world is new (totally changed universes) and the McGuffin is where it ought to be: in the back of the plot, pushing. But here is the thing. I have re-written so often. Cutting and re-writing entire chapters is part of my process. I see too many young writers (not as in age, but as in experience) refuse to re-write. I see it in my classes too, even amongst the English majors. They think they can tweak a comma, fix a run-on sentence and that is editing. It's not.


Editing sometimes means cutting chapter one and starting with two. It means moving chapter five to after chapter eight, writing two new chapters before it and cutting chapter four. It also means going back to the beginning and putting in a foreshadowing, an object, or sentence and then going back through the entire story to touch on it again. This often means editing entire paragraphs in maybe 20 chapters so everything lines up.


Chop it. Cut it. Delete it. That's editing.

 © Copyright 2020 by Abigail Linhardt