What’s one tree, more or less?

In the remote area where our summer cabin is located there are thousands, millions, of trees. I couldn’t begin to count them. Through the years I’ve heard the crack and crash of occasional ones falling, but in the woods one tree more or less doesn’t make much difference. Ones that topple toward our cabin, however, are another matter.

Yesterday one towering evergreen was discovered leaning precariously in that direction, its roots already partially out of the ground. All plans to head back to town had to be put on hold until the tree was removed – and it was no small endeavour to get it to fall in a direction other than where it was leaning.

I hate losing magnificent trees that are part of the view from the cabin window, but left where it was, this tree would likely have removed the window before our next visit! Recognizing its threat and taking action saved a later catastrophe.

Thinking about that tree reminded me of when I axed a chapter from an earlier novel. It wasn’t that the chapter was doing any harm where it was, but it hovered over subsequent scenes and threatened to send readers off in the wrong direction. And that could have destroyed the impact of the whole story.  As much as I liked the chapter, it was expendable. It had to be removed.

The analogy is weak, I admit, but there’s value in remembering that sometimes characters or scenes (or, in this case, a whole chapter) need to be sacrificed for the good of something more important.

Have you ever had to “kill your darlings”… cut out parts of a manuscript? How easy, or difficult, is it for you to do away with those precious words?

~  ~  ~

10 thoughts on “What’s one tree, more or less?

  1. nonoymanga says:

    Superb shots!!! Cheers Nonoy Manga

  2. Katt says:

    Ha ha! I have had to “kill my darlings”….and sometimes it hurts. I loved the analogy with the tree…..and the pictures with the “exposed roots”…that too is a gentle reminder. The roots were “no longer attached”…..so the “words” also needed to be removed….great analogy!

  3. deb says:

    Oh my yes on this. And it is not easy as you note in what i actually think is a great analogy.

  4. S. Etole says:

    Interesting thought that you have had shared.

  5. S. Etole says:

    oops! an extra word there …

  6. I have not written fiction before, so I have not experienced this. It must be hard though. . . to spend so much time developing a character and allowing them to enter your story and then have to do away with them.

    Where is your cabin, Careann? Northern Minnesota?


  7. Carol says:

    Thanks to each of you for taking time to read and comment today. It’s good to know I’m not the only one who’s occasionally faced the unpleasant task of cutting things from manuscripts. I try to keep in mind that I’m editing to make the story better — trying for the best it can possibly be.

  8. joylene says:

    I feel the same way whenever we lose a tree. They’re just so precious. Maybe Bob could build you a bench or something. Yes, trust Joylene to suggest more work.

    One of my protagonist’s mothers died one time. I was so upset I ended bringing her back to life and rewriting the scene. I killed off her boyfriend instead.

  9. Shari Green says:

    I’ve had to kill many darlings. It’s definitely easier if I’ve put the manuscript away for a month or so beforehand! Absence makes the heart grow tougher and more able to slash precious words, lol.

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