Though I still continue to struggle with writing new words for book IV, the last few days have been good for cutting some of the material that I already wrote. Yesterday I condensed two chapters into one, by removing a scene that was very similar to another that takes place later in the story. I am happy with the result.

I have to be in the mood to do this. Sometimes I look at various chapters, and everything I see looks relevant and absolutely unassailable. Other times I think it is complete crap, and I want to get rid of it all.

Neither of these times is a good moment to do any serious deleting.

You have to be in an objective frame of mind. Usually it helps to have some distance from the material. I never cut anything I have just written. I might tweak a word here or there, or add something, but I keep away from the delete key.

After a week or two have passed, then it is time to be quietly ruthless. Every sentence should be measured against the following two questions:

1. Does it provide necessary information?

2. Does it efficiently advance the arc of the story?

No to either question means it should go. But I never truly delete anything. Unwanted material gets placed in a separate document. Sometimes it finds its way back into the book again. Other times it gets recycled into something else. Even if it never sees the light of day, I don’t consider it useless. Culled words still provide information to me, the author, about the formation of the characters and the direction of the story.

Nothing is wasted.

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