1. Cassiopeia Phoenix
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    Cassiopeia Phoenix Contributing Member

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    Is anyone afraid of cutting up entire scenes?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Cassiopeia Phoenix, May 22, 2012.

    Ok, so I've been writing my novel. 10,000 words, and an entire plot which is my record so far. But I've come to a difficult scene that even though I know what is supposed to happen, I can't find the right way to do it. I did write the scene in a way that I didn't like much, it sounded too out of my protagonist's character but I kept going, thinking I could edit it later.

    The problem is because of her reaction on that scene, the next one doesn't work so well and it messes up with the plot in a not very good way. So I have to cut it because I can't write it anymore with the way things are going. But it would be about 2,000 words I would delete... And I don't want to do it. I mean, I would cut off 1/5 of my work. And so far, I have no replacement for those scenes I'm going to cut. It has been weeks since I stopped writing because of this mess.

    I mean, there's this advice where you should write even when is bad, that a blank page is worst (worse?) than a bad story but it kind of doesn't work with me...

    So, SOS for a helpless newbie?
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    If it doesn't work, you have two choices: fix it, or chuck it. If you chuck it, work out another way to serve the same purpose.

    If the scene didn't serve a purpose for the story, chuck it whether it works or not.
     
  3. Bluesman
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    Bluesman Member

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    I've been there, too.

    Whenever I write something that I feel is good, but doesn't fit in the story, I just cut it out and paste it into a new MS Word document and save it as a separate file. I have a special folder on my PC with around around 30 files in it that are just bits and pieces that I haven't used yet. When I'm out of inspiration, I sometimes go back to them. I has happened before that I found a new purpose for some pieces when I didn't expect it.

    If you're serious about writing, be prepared to cut a lot of your work.

    An oldie but a goodie: "Kill your darlings" - William Faulkner ;)
     
  4. Skodt
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    Skodt Member

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    If you plan to write a novel then 2000 words will be a chuck in the bucket when you are done. Words won't work, some senteces will be out of place by the end. Then sometimes you can finish and notice an entire part is not needed. It happens be happy you wrote it in the first of the place. It's a learning process. Learn from it the most you can.
     
  5. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I sympathize with the frustration at losing some progress, but I'd guess that in the weeks that you haven't been writing, you could have written more than 2,000 words that would fit with the new concept of your story.

    So I'd say grit your teeth, back up your novel, cut those words from the original, and start writing again. I know that it's easy for me to say, but it's really the best solution.
     
  6. Jenny Masters
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    Jenny Masters Member

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    Not at all.

    When I chuck a scene or sequence that doesn't work, I know that i'm making the story better.

    That's how you write great stories - replacing the weak links bit by bit.
     
  7. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    Im not a stranger to deleting scenes or entire chapters, thats part of the writing. You cant be so fond of your own work that you cant remove it if its not up to the standard you're aiming at.
     
  8. LostInFiction
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    LostInFiction Senior Member

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    This has happened to me, a few times.... I remove the piece that is causing the issue and save it to another file, on the pc I have one big file of all these 'deletes'. Then I rewrite at no risk to the story because I can always review or replace what was there before. Everytime I've done this it has worked in favor of the overall manuscript and, although it does mean taking a step back and this can be depressing, it usually finishes with a short but fabulous sprint forward....

    If you feel something needs to change or be taken out then you've already found your roadblock.... Just put it to one side and have another look at what you have and where you want to be heading. If you do end up discarding part of your hard work then perhaps it was a stepping stone to what will be your better work? Good luck.
     
  9. AmyHolt
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    AmyHolt Contributing Member

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    I have a file that I put deleted scenes (like Bluesman). I cannibalize from that file all the time. Even though I hate cutting scenes when I can steal a large chunk of a new scene from that file I always feel so productive because I get huge amounts done very quickly. And even if I only go back and steal wording for a few sentence here and there it still helps things move faster. Plus, it eases the pain of hacking parts off a story.
     
  10. Man in the Box
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    Man in the Box Active Member

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    I suggest backing up the deletes. A second look upon them might reveal they weren't so bad after all.

    I don't like deleting but it's part of every work you build, written or not.
     
  11. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    You should be keeping you older drafts in any case, so there's no real need to specifically back up your deletes.

    Your early drafts are your best proof of ownership is someone tries to claim your copyright for themselves. Never delete the early drafts.

    Than go ahead and cur ruthlessly in your subsequent drafts.
     
  12. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Back up your draft and cut the scene. Carry on without it. Then, after your story has settled back down in your mind, go back and decide whether or not you really need a scene there (the one you cut, or any approximation of it). You might find you don't. If you don't, leave it out. If you do, by then you will probably have decided what the scene really should be.
     
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  13. Ettina
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    Ettina Active Member

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    I have a different problem - when I decide to cut and rewrite scenes, very often I get sucked into rewriting the entire story. This is especially common when I rewrite the opening scene, which I often have to do because my beginnings are weak.
     
  14. Cassiopeia Phoenix
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    Cassiopeia Phoenix Contributing Member

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    Not deleting the scenes but putting them away and pretend they never existed sounds like a good idea. I didn't have the time to put it on practice yet, but after a few seconds thinking about disregarding them as part of the novel made my imagination kick in again.

    So thanks for the much wanted advice! Hopefully I will have 10,000 again pretty soon.
     
  15. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    By the way, this is why obsessing about word counts is counterproductive. If you have 10,000 words, but 2,000 of them are unusable, then you don't have 10,000 words. Don't try to convince yourself that you have anything more than 8,000 words. Sure, you may have worked hard on the 2,000 words, but they're garbage. It's like making an omelette - if you don't watch carefully, you can burn it. That doesn't mean you've made an omelette that just happens to be burnt, it means you dump it in the garbage and start over, more carefully this time.
     
  16. AmyHolt
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    AmyHolt Contributing Member

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    Love this thought - cut it and if you don't miss it, then you never needed it in the first place.
     
  17. Lucy1712
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    Lucy1712 New Member

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    don't sweat the word count too much - if you focus on that you'll end up with scenes that are too long and wordy purely because it'll bump that number up.

    i'm no stranger to cutting whole scenes/paragraphs. i've even gone so far as to write a whole sub-plot... only to make a drastic change to the main plot which made that sub-plot irrelevant!

    and for all those people who said they save those deleted scenes in a new file - i've made it my habit to hand write my novels first, then type them, then edit the typed version. as such i have whole pages of painstakingly hand written work that is not even going to appear in the final draft! but i hand write everything so i can look back and say that was my thought process, thats how i went from A to B.
     

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