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Jul 30, 2010

Sacrificing a Scene You Like for a Scene You Need

I just wrote a great scene. I introduced fun new characters, some cool shit for them to blow up, a whole mess of awesome.

It's gotta go.

Doen't fit. What I need instead of all my new shiny toys is a quiet word from a entirely different fellow, a much less engaging character, but one who, ultimately, will be more relevant to the theme of the novel.

I know, this is all unduly mysterious. It comes down to this: I have to sacrifice a scene I like for a scene the book needs. I think I finally, finally understand that annoying injunction, "kill your darlings."

Yeah, yeah. I get it. The darlings are now gutted corpses on the cutting room floor. Are you satisfied, you bloodthirsty Muse?

Has this ever happened to you? What do you do with the chopped scenes? Personally, I hope to resurrect them in some other context.

6 comments:

sraasch said...

I usually reserve my sacrificial scenes for later in the novel or another ms. Never give up on them! Never surrender! I mean, you know, surrender to Muse at THAT particular time when it doesn't fit, but not overall. Yes.

scott g.f.bailey said...

You know, I threw out an entire novel and am rewriting from scratch. There's some absolutely wonderful stuff in the tossed version, and I figure that most of it will never see the light of day. But I also figure that as I continue to write, I'll become a better writer so I don't mourn the "lost" prose because I assume I'll just write better stuff.

I tried to reuse a couple of scenes from the tossed novel in the new one, and while I was able to keep the basic structure of the scenes, I still pretty much had to rewrite them from scratch. Which I find interesting. It was more work to re-work the old stuff to fit with the new than it would have been to just write new scenes.

Anyway, there's no point in getting attached to our prose. I see all of my writing as provisional these days. I bear in mind always that whatever I think about a scene now, I'll probably change/delete it at some point.

Tara Maya said...

@ Scott
It's not so much the prose I'm attached to -- though I won't say I never given into the temptation of throwing a love-fest for my own words. No, it's the characters, and sometimes the setting or situation I miss. In this case, I had the idea of an all female pirate ship and a good idea of the captain. I like that and hopefully those characters will show up some time.

The novel I'm working on right now is also a full re-write, in theory of a novella I wrote in high school. I'm using the original more as an outline than as text to edit. Each scene so far is completely new at the sentence level. The plot is more fleshed out as well.

@sraach
"We are not retreating, we are advancing in a backwards direction." *grin*

Ban said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ban said...

Grief! I'm going through something similar right now. I've got a bunch of scenes involving the MCs I'm going over - there's tension in them, gut wrenching emotion and explainations to questions I want answered but they don't work, at least not all of them and not exactly as they are. What I've got to do is take a little from one and a little from another and mush them together (hopefully with more cohesion than mush) and then I've got to figure out where to put the finished scene. It's hard because, while I knew writing the scenes they would have to be changed, the MCs (and I) still experienced them and evolved because of them ...

Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

Like Scott, I've completely thrown out a book and started from scratch. I lost a lot of great stuff I loved. I'll never use it again, sadly. It will rot and decay. Oh well.

This is just part of writing, and I have to accept it even though it totally sucks. Even from Cinders I cute some freaking fantastic stuff, but it just didn't fit right. Really sad. :(

From Monarch, I cut all those jungle scenes and thought I'd never use them - but then I put them back in. I did, however, have to pretty much rewrite them, so that hurt, too.

I should make a book of cut scenes.