I had been talking to Nicole about Dragon Wine, lamenting that I had cut a bit but needed to cut more and didn’t think I could get another 20,000 out of it. Then we talked a bit more. I suggested I could cut the bad guy’s point of view. A couple of chapters I had written during revision were from the Inspector’s point of view, nasty stuff too. Nicole said she’d done a twitter survey suggesting that readers don’t like the bad guy’s point of view.
Then she said something really cool:
Actually, writing the bad guy helped me flesh out a few things. Now I’ve done that I can get rid of it.
She's right: writing is as much an exploration of world, story and characters for the writer as it is for the reader. There are plenty of pathways through the story and decisions the writer needs to make to get to the destination, but these decisions aren't necessarily important (or interesting) to the reader. Just like any wilderness hike, once you reach your destination the instructions to retrace your footsteps don't need to include all the back tracking, all the double-guessing, all the dead ends, all the deadly wildlife... Your job as writer (or guide, to continue the analogy) is to beat down the track for the reader, make all the mistakes for them.
Then cover your tracks so no one finds the bodies.