At our core, writers like us want to create. Whether it's a simple haiku, an epic novel, or anything in between, we want to take our jumble of random thoughts and countless Post-It notes and turn them into a coherent piece of writing that clearly expresses our truths. Given this urge to create, it feels wrong to bring out our next writing tool, but here it is: The Saw.
The difficulty of seeing this as beneficial comes from the creative writer. Everything a writer creates is personal. It is a product of their own process, and therefore has value. However, those individual creations might not fit together very well without a little trimming. A house frame is a wonderfully designed assemblage of 2-by-4s, but not all of them stayed the same length as they were when they came from the lumber yard. The scrap pile at a construction site is a thing to behold, and the same goes for reviewing a story - a lot of things need to get trimmed, or in some cases, cut out entirely.
I have not met a writer yet who didn't have reservations about deleting a character from a novel, or removing a great description from a story. Again, these are the writer's personal creations, and it's tough to put an end to them. However, part of the process is making sure that everything is just right, and a part of that is making changes when it's just not working.
Take something like the great description I mentioned. What could possibly be wrong with that? A really nice description of a car might make the writer feel like they've accomplished something special, which they have. However, if that description of the car is in the middle of a chase scene, it can kill the mood. Chase scenes are action - nobody cares about fine lines or shining chrome. At this point, the saw should come out. Maybe the piece gets taken out entirely, or introduced at another point. Just don't let ego keep something that's going to ruin the larger product.
The same goes for characters. Sometimes a character might be very fleshed out and understood by the writer, but their placement comes as a total distraction to the larger story. Some call this the Jar Jar Binks Effect, but that's for another time. The point is that we need to decide if the saw should be used to cut out the character's qualities that don't fit, or the story arcs that don't match, or just eliminate the character altogether. This is tough for a writer to do, but if the larger story demands it, then it is best to cut in order to cure.
Once we are through this, we get out our final tools, and Monday I will explain what they are.