As I work my way through the hack-n-slash editing phase of the western, it’s getting easier and easier to cut something and not worry about if I’ve made the right decision.
Whole scenes, parts of scenes and lines of dialogue are wiped from existence, all with a positive result. Tighter scene(s), better flow of story, all creating a stronger efficiency of words.
Added bonus – script is already 5 pages shorter, and still have Act 3 to go.
(Counter to all of this cutting, placeholders have been identified as potential chances to add in a few lines for some character development.)
Re-reading this script has also made me realize how much I overwrite, especially with dialogue. I try to avoid extra verbage, but don’t see that’s what’s happened until long afterward. By then, it seems more like padding, so out it goes.
A lot of writers are hesitant to cut material or make drastic edits. They just can’t bring themselves around to killing their darlings, because they figure everything is just right the way it is.
As much as you like that scene or dialogue, you have to be as objective as possible about your own work. Is it absolutely vital to the story and advance it in the best way possible? If you took it out, would it make any difference whatsoever, or at least have some kind of impact on the story?
I’d venture probably not.
Don’t be afraid to put that red pen to work and cut away! The pain of having to do so is minimal at best and lasts all of a microsecond or two. It’s more than likely that the next time you read through what you’re working on now, you won’t even notice its absence, probably not remember it ever being there and hopefully think “Wow, this draft seems a lot better.”