When you’re tempted to do it…DON’T!

Don’t eat caramel apples when you have a loose crown.

I learned this lesson long ago, after biting into a caramel apple knowing, like Snow White and her fateful apple, it would end in disaster. Why? Oh, I don’t know. Why do any of us step onto that pretty path, knowing it’s the wrong one to tread? Is it the exhilaration of tempting the Fates? Thinking maybe, this once, they won’t be looking?

It seems to be a recurring theme in writer-world–one I’ve fallen into time and again. In fact, I did it recently with the novel I’m working on Walk With Dreams. “You’re going too far with this plotpoint, Terri!” I heard my inner-editor murmur. She didn’t speak loudly enough when she should have hit me with a 2 x 4. I ended up delete-delete-deleting.

D’oh! If you suspect that what you’re doing is going to lead you into peril–Don’t do it!

“Oh, look at the shiny plot bunny!” Don’t do it!

“I’m going to switch around the motives of my protag and antag in the middle of the book! What a killer twist that would be! Don’t do it!

“I’m continuing with my story about Lucas Moonwalker, an orphaned boy seeking his destiny, and the half-man, half-machine villain who is really his father. I’ve never seen Star Wars. It’s not copying if I’ve never seen it.” Don’t do it!

“I’m going to nudge that agency I sent my manuscript to last week. They’ve had it long enough.” Don’t do it.

“Ooo, look! A hairpin. Ooo, look! An electrical socket. I wonder what’ll happen if…ZAP!” Don’t do it!

Though I used to do it quite a bit, I’ve learned to recognize it and back away from the electrical socket sooner, rather than later. When I did it with A Time Never Lived, ended up with 30K words of a manuscript in the recycle bin. With this last time, only about 2K words ended up wasted time–but it was still a day of writerly-time I’ll never get back.

Many writers hate deleting work so much that they won’t do it at all, and end up going in circles. I betcha dollars to donuts that most stalled work has more to do with a plotline winding out of control and an author unwilling to ditch it than anything else. I am the queen of delete, I have to say. It doesn’t bother me to toss a week’s worth of work into the recycle bin. Ok, that’s a lie–it does bother me, but I do it anyway.

Do you? Can you?


Filed under Writing is Life

5 responses to “When you’re tempted to do it…DON’T!

  1. What a fun post! Deleting and rewriting is my favorite part of the writing process. I know that makes me an odd bunny, but it’s during the delete/rewrite stage that I really feel like I’m getting my house in order. Everything up to the delete stage I write for my own indulgence. Everything from the first delete forward I’m doing for the readert.


  2. I found the bulky start of a novel I attempted in high school. I was all ‘ooh shiny!” at all the plot bunnies. If I’d detailed every thread I started up, the manuscript would have been at least a 4’x4’x4’ cube of paper. Plus it was…. well, I was in high school.


    • Terri-Lynne DeFino

      Ah, the oblivious bliss of new writerdom! I wrote 24 novels, most of them over 300K words a piece, before I ever realized how deep my ignorance actually was. I consider those books my education. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it! Thanks for stopping by!


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