Sheryl R. Hayes

Figuring out writing one word at a time.

Chasing Butterflies

I’m about twenty percent through a rewrite of my book, although some people have told me that I’m doing a heavy edit.  I call it a rewrite because there are some plot elements I am still revising.  One plot element was a conversation between the female protagonist and two of her friends.  No matter what I did, the conversation was problematic at best and illogical on multiple levels at worst. So after many suggestions on how to fix it, I did what I thought was the easiest thing.  I cut it.

Little did I know what I was setting myself up for.

Rereading that chapter, it flows much better.  The story will be stronger without it, and it adds a few plot twists I can use in future books.  I declared that section done and moved on to the next scene.  I discovered a reference to the deleted conversation.  I excised it and continued on.   Easy enough to do.  Then I found not only was I editing the little references to the conversation, but references to conversations about the original conversation.  That was when I had a flash of insight.  The 50,000 words I had written for NaNoWriMo 2013 had their roots in the conversation I had just deleted.

Head, meet desk.  Repeatedly.

It’s the butterfly effect, only with words instead of wind.  A butterfly flaps his wings in Brazil and sets off a tornado in Texas. Each change sets off a cascade of other changes. I was seeing that effect first hand cascading through my story.

After I finished banging a head sized dent in my desk, I sat back and started assessing the damage.  The NaNoWriMo story can be salvaged.  I will have to approach the underlying motivation from a different angle.  While I consider that, I will continue to edit out references to the deleted scene and try to prevent other butterflies from flapping their wings.

1 Comment

  1. It’s amazing how even a minor revision can affect the entire tone of a story. I’ve cut entire scenes or made minor edits to a character’s behavior that changed the reader’s perception of the entire story. (Or so I’ve been told by beta readers.) Great post!

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