Love It Enough to Let It Go

One of the most common, and one of the hardest, pieces of advice that I’ve learned from many authors is to let go of what doesn’t work, or fit, anymore in your manuscript.  And often these are the scenes, or the descriptions, that we love the most.

Maybe you got the whole idea of your novel when you were standing in the rain waiting for a ride, and noticed a couple fighting.  Tayari Jones relates a similar impetus to her book An American Marriage. So you start your book with a rainy day.  Maybe the woman is crying in the rain (all right, corny, but you get the idea).  It’s a moving scene.  You love it.

But then 75 pages into your book, you find that it is really about the observer, how each of us writes our life’s narrative based on what we observe.  And it’s great.  But the crying woman doesn’t fit anymore.  You, and the reader, have lost track of the woman and her lover.

As great as the original opening scene is (let’s imagine her glancing at the clouds before the rain comes, then glancing at her lover’s impassive face…so much could be done here) Let. It. Go.  Move on with your book about the observer.  That crying woman will wait her turn for another novel.


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