The golden rule about deciding whether something belongs in your book is simple. If it doesn't further the plot, it doesn't belong in the book. So by now I should have axed all the chaff, it being so simple to spot, and all. Yet I continue to bump into these little nuggets -- maybe five lines or a paragraph -- that are not essential and, worse, are not connected to anything else in the story.
I scream "Aha!" and lunge at the offending bit, plucking it out of the book with a huge pair of virtual tweezers. Poof. It's gone. But I'm amazed to find these things in the book at this point in the process. How could I not have spotted those offending lines during my last 13 passes through the story? It almost freaks me out.
But I am seeing these things now and I'm tossing them out of the book. Soon, very soon, there will be only essential text in the book. But as I've said here before: phew! What a long process this is. First I had to learn how to write an interesting novel, and then I had to learn to edit like a pro.
"When you see a need you cannot fill, you learn the skill and fill it." -- Keith O'Connor.That's always been my motto. And it's a good thing too, or I might have gotten lost along the way with this "becoming a writer" thing. What can I say? I'm still learning. In fact, to be a writer is to learn. It's the way it is.