Okay, you're editing your novel and you come to a part where the creative bug bit you while writing; next thing you knew, you were off on a tangent about a pig in love with a goat, playing chase around the yard, and wreaking havoc on the front porch where the whole family had gathered to take a picture. The problem is that your novel's a romance, and the scene you're editing is supposed to be "conducive" to such feelings. I don't know about you, but pig crap doesn't make me want to cuddle? Ewwww! If you think it sounds romantic, you might want to keep that to yourself.
You get ready to delete this little side-track, but you're feeling reluctant because you kind of like this story. It's funny, and it tells the reader something about your MCs past. Who cares that the reader doesn't need to know this!
But, you've also got a manuscript that has balooned to 135,000 words. Cutting back here and there won't do, you've got to go for the Ginny Craig plan if this baby is gonna shrink.
Consider this: Pull the tangent aside, and rewrite it as a short story. I've found that this is a great way to come up with new material. If you're like me, the characters you've created over the years have a lot more history than what you've written into your novels. Don't let those experiences go to waste. Your characters deserve to be heard.
I bet you thought I was being silly in the example I wrote above. Well, a little story called, "What Happened Next," will run next month in A Long Story Short. You might find it interesting.