Love Thy Novel as Thyself or What to Save? What to Shave?

Ah, edits. Aren't they fun? Kind of reminds me of getting a root canal or being the last to be picked for a team in school. However, without these dreaded edits, we'd have nothing more than freakish-looking first drafts, laden with poetic drivel and lacking things like "riveting plots," "intelligible dialogue," and "meaningful characterizations."

Mine the Diamonds
I'm deep into my third draft of my YA novel, and finally feel I'm hitting my stride - a stride that will take my black and white sketch to a completed masterpiece. Yes, I know that sounds a bit "puffy," but if I didn't feel I could dig deep and mine the diamonds in my story, why write it?

Love Thy Novel as Thyself
You should feel the same way, too. Love your work profoundly and passionately. No one will or should love your work more than you do. It is that love that keeps us writing, keeps us going in the middle of our first drafts when we want to hit the "delete" key, and it is that love that keeps us from giving up on our long held dreams.

So, what's a writer to do? How do we know what to save and what to shave?
I'm 1/3 of the way through my revisions, and I've cut 13 full pages out so far. That's some serious shaving. It's also some serious saving, since I've kept - in one form or another - 73 pages. My best advice is "trust yourself." If you're questioning a word, sentence, paragraph, scene, or even a whole chapter, delete it and see if the story becomes weaker or stronger. That's why God created the Control X keys; you can take things out, and if you decide otherwise, put them back in again.

For my first two novels, I was so reluctant to eliminate any of my brilliant words, that I had "Outtakes" documents which held onto every, single, precious word I wrote and removed. Now, I save only completed drafts. The thoughts and ideas that come and go in between those drafts are lost in the ether, and I say, "good riddance!" As a writer, and as a healthy human being, you have to be able to let things go.

What are your stories about what to save and what to shave? Do you have trouble killing your darlings, or are you a literary Jack the Ripper? What have you learned from the process?

Vlog update: Found a better deal on Amazon (saved $65!), so I returned my Flip and am waiting for a different one. So, video blogging is briefly postponed.
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