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?
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