Cutting Pages: Making the Backspace Key Obsolete

March 4, 2015

This month we’re going to talk about spring cleaning when it comes to writing.  Spring cleaning can happen in a number of different ways when it comes to a manuscript.  This month we will be looking at four different elements of a manuscript that can help tighten your WIP:

  1. Making cuts to entire scenes or chapters
  2. Changing the point of view in a scene
  3. Understanding why a scene is necessary to the overall plot
  4. Dialogue tags and why they are important

First Up: Cutting Entire Scenes or Chapters

Back in the days of typing (or long hand as some writers still enjoy), it can be an absolutely painful experience to cut a scene or a chapter in a book.  There’s no way to recover or reuse from a cut the size of a scene or chapter when using such antiquated technology.

But today, there’s nothing worse you can do than hit the backspace key.

Never under any circumstances should a writer hit the backspace key.  You never know when you’re going to be able to salvage something from a scene or move a scene to a different place in a story where it will work better for the plot.

What To Do Instead

Depending on the program you use to write, you want to create a space to put deleted scenes or chapters.  If you use Word, create a new document and cut and paste the deleted scene/chapter into the new Word doc.  I use Scrivener.  Here is what my deleted scenes folder looks like:

Unused Scenes

This is the unused scenes folder from When She Knows.  Instead of deleting a scene or chapter with the backspace key, I cut and paste the scene into a new text document and move the scene to this folder.  Numerous times during the working of a manuscript, I will go back to this folder and move or tweak a part or all of the text in an unused scene to incorporate it into the text.

Today’s Tip: Break up with your backspace key.  You don’t need it anymore.

Next week, we’ll talk about changing point of view in a scene to increase tension or deepen a connection between a plot development and a character’s arc.

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