Revising is editing is deleting

I have been editing all morning, working on the second draft of my new novel (we’ll call it the Cowboy Romance) and had to make some big, bold moves.

Which involved the delete key.

A lot of the delete key.

Editor Cat gets it.

Why will my story insist on changing so dramatically?

It’s amazing to me the way a story can evolve from the nice little outline that I write so blithely in a notebook, sipping coffee and thinking “this is just going to fly out from my fingers. Look! I have it all worked out! This happens, and then this happens, and then this, and voila! The end!”

And it just doesn’t happen that way at all.

Even when I am a taskmistress and make myself write precisely to the outline, denying myself any fun or fancy free, the doubts come creeping in. Should he really be going there? Should that character even exist at all? She seems too angry for this scene, does she have a reason to be so angry? Should I give her a reason to be so angry, or lighten her up? What’s that, go back and give her a reason?

And so when the revisions begin and I start giving free rein to my persistent inner voice, crazy stuff starts happening. New chapters appear (meaning I have to renumber all the subsequent chapters as I get to them, which is actually how I remember where I left off from day to day. If one chapter is “eighteen” and the following chapter is “fifteen” then I know exactly where I stopped the day before). Characters grow, gain bigger personalities and quirks of their own.

And I delete things.

A lot of things.

There was a time when I didn’t use an outline at all, but just wrote seat-of-my-pants style from start to finish. I’m not sure that saved me any time or heartache when it came to revisions, though. A story just evolves from your initial concept no matter how you wrote it out the first time.

What do you think? Are you pretty free with the delete key when you’re revising your work?