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.