Chapter carnage

So far I have deleted five chapters of the Ultimate Fairy Book. Two of them my favourites.

The truly horrifying thing? Afterwards it was like they were never even there. The changes I needed to make in their absence? Almost zero.

Sigh. Makes me wonder why I wrote them in the first place . . .

I enjoy deleting vast chunks of text. It’s the easiest kind of rewriting. Plus it always makes my books better. I don’t miss what I’ve nuked. Seriously I have never restored any deleted passages or chapters. Not once. I always save them but I rarely look at them again.

Am I alone?


  1. lili on #

    i love it too. once i get over the initial resistance (“but it took WEEKS to write!”), deleting it is awfully satisfying. Although it buggers up my word count targets for the day.

    my most frequent complaint about books is “could have been 30 000 words shorter”.

  2. cherie priest on #

    You are not alone. I gleefully culled about 5000 words out of Fathom before I sent it off the other night. Cutting crap out is the easy, entertaining, immediately rewarding part of revising.

    For me, anyway.

  3. Tole on #

    Will we ever get to read the deleted chapters anyway? It would be just like watching the special features of a book. 🙂

  4. Elodie on #

    I know what tole means! I relish every last page of a book and am so sad when it ends, I can’t believe there’s cut out stuff I could have read! But then again I tend to love loooong books, just because I get more time with the characters… even if some parts get drawn out xD

  5. Elodie on #

    aww, your eating of capitals killed my laughing face =(

  6. Tim Walker on #

    “Makes me wonder why I wrote them in the first place”: I always figure these phantom sections are the dross that must be drawn off to get to the pure gold. 🙂

    Random marketing idea: If you have these chapters sitting around, and if you could do something coherent with just those chapters, you could use them as a promotional freebie when the book comes out. Stage a blog contest or whatever, with “an extra vignette not included in the published text of ufb” as a prize. All you’d need is a well-laid-out pdf file. Like I said, just an idea, but it might appeal to your fans who just can’t get enough . . .

  7. Chris Howard on #

    Cutting’s always good for the author, but not always for the reader. I with elodie and tim. I’d love to see them all–or if removing them significantly changed the plot, can you roll a few into a short story for us?

  8. Diana on #

    you’re mad. i hate cutting out scenes and i can always see the scars in my book when I do it. i know it’s not the way it’s “supposed” to be.

    if possible, i put them back in later books.

  9. sherwood on #

    not alone, nope nope nope.

  10. elizabeth bear on #

    I always have to go back and add between 15-30%, because I apparently believe that if I put a few words on the page, the reader will be able to extract the story from my brain through osmosis.

  11. hillary! on #

    so when is this book do? I’m excited to read a new book of yours, especially a fiction maybe fantasy.
    Totally off topic, but I really love libraries and Librarians too and I was wondering what do I need to do, besides talk to my librarian, to become one? I am going to be his aide this year but I don’t think that’s enough. any advice or ideas?

  12. Susan on #

    LOL! Elizabeth, i’m with you. I rarely have to cut. always add, add, add. (or, as I think of it, plumping.)

  13. Corey on #

    I’m surrounded by literary sadists ^^

  14. carrie on #

    I, like diana, hate cutting. In fact, i rarely do it. rewrite, perhaps. But cut… no. i get eeked out by cutting, afraid that I’m cutting the very thing that people loved and that the whole house of cards will fall around me because of what I cut.

    not healthy, I know. You should see me editing my query letter! As if the world hinged on one word! (those start going out today! w00t!)

  15. hwalk on #

    i love cutting words and large passages. and if they go out, they never come back in. i deleted eight-five pages, a few chapters in a row, of something i wrote, and the book needed some tweaking, but it was so much better without it. it’s nice just to delete and let the good things stand alone, without the mediocre.

  16. jenny davidson on #

    i love, love, love cutting also, in fact i was just writing about the exact same thing this morning on my blog!

  17. Rebecca on #

    you’re not alone. i’m all about carnage. time consuming b/c there’s that bit where you have to write it all again. but productive.

  18. Justine on #

    To all those who pine for deleted chapters: I think a couple of them will work on their own and will post them on my website when there’s an Ultimate Fairy Book section.

    I promise!

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