Sunday, November 8, 2009

The scenes we leave out

I figure it's time for a break from all things NaNoWriMo (Especially since I'm behind in my word count- don't worry, I'll catch up.)

Since NaNoWriMo is all about just getting words on the page, I'm going discuss

drum roll please


A very specific form of revision, actually.

Several months ago, I wrote a great scene for my WIP. It established aspects of my MC's character I hadn't ironed out, introduced us to people in her past, and solidified the life she had before the story begins.

Great scene. I love writing it. I loved reading it. So did the Slushies.

But the consensus was that it didn't need to go at the beginning of the story, because it's not really part of the story. It was also too big to be a flashback, and too involved to be split into tiny flashbacks.

It took me a while to realize that I shouldn't do anything with it.

And not in the this-is-gorgeous-and-insightful-prose-and-no-unhallowed-hands-shall-cut-it-from-this-manuscript sense. Nothing, as in the-readers-will-never-see-it sense.

Here's why: it wasn't part of my story. It set the stage for the story.

So why didn't I sob silently as I cut this really cool bit from my MS?

Because it will be in everything I write. It will show up because I know it. And because I know it, the reader will, too. That scene shaped the way I viewed my story; it informs the way I'm crafting it.

A professor of mine once told me that everything we cut from a MS haunts it. The weight and sense and soul of what we cut lingers in our work, even if it isn't visible on the page.

It doesn't mean readers won't feel the effects of my special scene. It just means it that a reader won't be able to turn to such-and-such page to find it.

How about you? Any really good parts that you've cut, that you realized you needed more than your readers? I can't be the only one.

Meanwhile, I have some serious catching up to do with NaNo...


Tess said...

Yes and it hurts. I sometimes try to find ways to allow bits of that work into my piece -- but sometimes it is better left out.


Michelle said...

It was a beautiful scene. Just think, one day, when your book has thousands of fans, you can release that scene on your website as one of the "never before seen" ones.

Sarah said...

I'd never thought of books have extra features like DVD's.

Interesting thing is, most of the time when I watch the deleted scenes, I can see why they were cut. There have only been a few times when I've thought the movie would have been better with the scene. (And you know they're showing the best of the cut scenes!)

Tess, glad to know I'm not the only one...

Scott said...

Yes, Yes, Yes! I do it all the time. In fact, I totally cut the first chapter from one project and incorporated bits/pieces into chapter two, which then became chapter one.

I think when we're able to take those pieces of brilliance that just don't work out of our work, well, it makes us better writers.

BTW - love the comment about the soul.


Sherry Dale Rogers said...

Cool idea books having extra features like DvDs, cool. Yes there are things that I have cut and I know it was the right thing to do and it does haunt me but that is what it means to write.

Sarah said...

Scott, glad to hear it worked out well for you! Gives me hope that I'll be pleased with the results.

I thought of you on the Halloween episode of Castle. Space cowboy, indeed. : )

Sherry, you're absolutely right. I think one of the biggest indicators of a good writer is the willingness and ability to revise. And cutting is part of revision.