Okay, so if there's anything I've learned over the past five years, it's this: The delete key is your friend. There's nothing "darling" about words that don't work, and if you're not sure if they're working or not, chances are, they're not.
My philosophy in this situation? Delete.
When my critique partners start asking me questions about a specific sentence or passage, and I can't answer? Delete.
When my plot is feeling too heavy and convoluted? Delete.
When a chapter needs to be rewritten? Delete it all, and start from blank pages.
I have deleted entire portions of many of my novels in the past. In POSSESSION, I completely wiped out several chapters, creating a Point A and a Point B. I then rewrote a new way to get from A to B.
And you know what? It was better. It worked.
In another of my as-yet-unpublished novels, I deleted about 25,000 (that is not a typo) words--the last 1/3 of the novel. I can hear some of you going, Why? Why would you do that? Didn't you save some of them? What if there was a particularly brilliant sentence?
The truth is, the ending wasn't working, and I couldn't see how it could work with all that black on the page. So I deleted it.
As for combing through the work to find that one awesome piece, I guess I just don't care. I suppose that if I did write one brilliant sentence that might be worth saving, I could write another equally fantastical sentence to take it's place.
In fact, I'm not going for just one sentence. I'm looking to make each word the right one, each sentence more compelling, each scene vital to the overall workings of the book.
And if it's not working... Delete.
So yes, whenever I'm in doubt, I delete. Have you done this? How do you feel about the delete key?