This post could be a companion piece to my earlier post about Killing Your Darlings. Since I just addressed this issue in a teeth-gnashingly way, I thought there may be value in it on a post.
I wrote a completely brilliant chapter. The words were neat and concise, the feeling perfectly conveyed by the language, and the chapter seemed to flow beautifully, like a fast-moving river. There was just one problem. It was pith. Pretty pith, but pith nonetheless.
That lovely chapter that made me swoon with delight every time I read it, just didn't move the story forward. It didn't advance my main character forward in her journey, it failed to reveal anything that wasn't already evident in the manuscript, and it simply had no rhyme nor reason for being there. It had to go. But, I didn't make it easy.
I wailed over it, edited it, tried to shove relevant facts and notions into it, all to no avail. As brilliant as the chapter may have been, it did nothing for the story. So, I highlighted it in preparation to delete the entire thing. And then didn't delete it. Mind you, it remained highlighted through dinner, bedtimes, and the beginning of The Tonight Show before I touched the "enter" button. But, I finally did. It was painful. However, reading the story through again without that chapter, I saw that it worked. It didn't have that inexplicable "speed-bump" feeling I got (which I would not admit to myself) when the chapter was in place before.
I was so mad at myself for not seeing the problem earlier, I clicked open an unfinished horror short story and pounded on it for a half hour, wrapping it up in a very pleasing manner.
You may think I conquered the problem and I could leave it here, letting you believe just that. But, you know how hard it is to kill your own darlings. So, I removed that chapter and pasted it into a new Word document. I'm saving it. You never know when it might be the perfect fit for something. It really is lovely. (I know, I know, I'm sure there is a twelve-step program for this, but until I am ready to admit the addiction, I hope to never be cured!)