Oh, do those words strike fear in my heart. That’s when I know the very passage in which I suggest a major rewrite, will be met with a story about how their sister’s best friend’s cousin thought that scene was awesome, and they don’t want to harm a hair on their pretty little manuscript.
It’s good for a writer to fall in love with their words…to a certain extent. But when it reaches the point where they’re unwilling to change even a sentence, it becomes a problem.
I recently had this happen to me. I had to explain to the writer that it’s easy to lose perspective. That a parent needs to see the child’s faults in order to guide and nurture them. We’ve all seen what happens when a parent thinks their child is perfect and can do no wrong. They wind up selfish, entitled, and unable to see any point of view but their own. Turning a blind eye may seem noble, but in the end it causes more harm.
It’s the same for a manuscript. If a writer sees it as perfect and too precious, it winds up a self-indulgent mess that’s unable to reach the reader, because the writer was more enamored with their words than nurturing the story.
Rather than an immediate, “No!” the writer should ask, “How do you think it can be improved?”
That starts a creative discussion and always leads to a satisfactory result.
It may be that the writer strung together a lot of pretty words, but the passage doesn’t add to the plot or character development. It could be it’s bland or cliche-ridden. Or maybe the character is acting out of character for no reason. (I’ll delve more deeply into out-of-character behavior in another blog). Maybe it’s superfluous and slows down the story. Or there’s a rehashing of a situation the reader already witnessed
The point is, maintaining perspective is key. Compromise is key. The editor is there to make sure the book reflects the true talent of the writer. The editor doesn’t want to remove scenes so they’ll feel like they’re earning their paycheck.. Maybe there’s a way to make the scene even better, but when a writer is unwilling to entertain even the notion of change, they could be missing out on a way to make their book great. There’s always a reason behind the edit. All the writer has to do is ask and be open to the possibilities.