My neighbors have three rosebushes growing beside their garage. Earlier this summer, the bushes had dozens of dark purple faded and wrinkly blossoms. They were pretty. They added something to the bushes.
But then, the house sold and the new owners pruned the bushes.
Only two roses remained, but they were beautiful and pink, with perfectly-shaped petals. The purple ones lay in bunches at the foot of the rosebushes.
Writing is like that. Sometimes, we simply need to trim back some of the words and phrases that are cliché or repetitive. But many times, we think we have something beautiful, when all we really have is faded and dying dark purple roses. We settle for that when we could have vibrant pink, perfect flowers. We need to go back through and take out the scenes that don’t work, the dialogue that isn’t finished. The parts of our story that seem pretty but don’t add anything to the story. We need to rework backstory so that we’re not info-dumping.
Even after we’ve gone through it, there are our blind spots. The one purple flower that was less dead than the others that we simply couldn’t bear to part with because we felt our book wouldn’t be whole without it.
How do you prune your work? Do you have a critique partner who can point out bits in your novel that don’t seem to be playing a role? Do you think of your WIP as something that’s constantly evolving? Or do you write “The End” on your first or second draft and think you’re done?
What are some of the roses you like to hang onto? For me, it’s really pretty descriptions.