I was zipping along on book four of Free Men and Dreamers, which I am currently titling "Oh Say Can You See?" , when a terrible thing happened--I received a stroke of inspiration. That should be a good thing, but when the inspiration is for a section you've already researched, written, proofed, and fallen in love with, it's a heartbreaker.
Torn between setting the idea aside, and ripping out large sections of the manuscript, I do the only thing a self-respecting author can do. I walk away from the computer, for this requires some serious soul-searching, and some careful analysis.
An author soon discovers that they can say the same thing a thousand times a thousand different ways, and many of them will be great. Likewise, you can write a scene hundreds of gut-wrenching ways, and many of them will evoke the sought after response from the reader. But the challenge is to know when the inspired change is worth sacrificing pages of good writing, and when it's not. And sometimes, to know that, you simply have to walk away and think.
This is where a great critique group or a writing partner comes in handy. Barring that, you just need to take a long hard look down the road of the story to see which thread will sweep your reader where you want them to go in the most marvelous way possible.
So many great lines . . . great chapters die this way. I know, I've got a few on life-support right now.