Yet another reason NaNo and I don’t mix well

I edit as I go. And you know, it was a skill I had to learn. I used to be afraid to edit. “I want to change that… but what if I decide later I like this old material better and it’s *gone*!” Well, sometimes editing’s necessary just to move on *at all*, so I learned ways to deal. Like backing up every day so I have old versions available if I need them. One other thing I do is create a “puppy pound.” My old writing coach had this saying from one of her editors: “This story’s great, except for one thing. You need to kill the dog.”

The “dog” is some part of the story you’re emotionally attached to that you refuse to get rid of even though it’s not contributing to any plot point. For me, the “dog” is often a cool squib of dialogue or description that could have been part of the story, but then didn’t fit once I had most of the story written. Sometimes, I’ll bend the story into pretzels to keep the dog there. But I’ve learned to get rid of my dogs by taking them and putting them into a separate file. The dogs go there, and all the other story snippets that could-have-been but proved extraneous to or wrong for the story go in the puppy pound.

I’m so used to having my puppy pound now, I forget it’s there unless I’m dumping verbage into it. But I have two puppy pounds going, one for TD 204 and one for TD 205/206. These are bits of text I wrote for the episodes in November that I just clipped out and stuffed away. I didn’t consider them as part of my “word count” because they’re not part of the “official draft”. But by NaNo rules (which I flout with impunity), they count in my total word count.


5 thoughts on “Yet another reason NaNo and I don’t mix well

  1. As Jed Clampett used to say, “Well, doggies!”
    I have to say that unless it’s holding you back from continuing ‘let sleeping dogs lie’ for now.
    After this writing binge then worry about all the pups.
    Once you see something isn’t needed you have three choices. Sometimes shooting the rabid dog is best cause it’s just making the neighborhood impossible. Sometimes you can let the dog outside (the story) because related to this story it’s just going to make dog crap. It will be fine for the next story when you let it back in. In the last case you can see that what ‘isn’t needed’ is better than what you thought you needed. In this case pay attention to the dog, cause she’s probably your best friend. In other words sometimes it’s better to kick out the cat and save the dog!

  2. Re: As Jed Clampett used to say, “Well, doggies!”
    I already *know* the puppies are out of the story and in the dog house. They’re gone, but saved away for peace of mind. The only issue is, do they count in the total NaNo word count, or don’t they?

  3. As I understand it, NaNo is all about the number of words written, not the quality of the writing, so I’d consider the puppies as included as if they hadn’t been trimmed.

  4. Exactly. Just because I put them in a separate file and forgot about them doesn’t mean they don’t count. After all, *technically* editing is for December, and what you write in November is what you write in November.

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