Thursday, September 29, 2011

Justify Those Scenes

What I'm reading (bike) Up Close and Personal, by Carla Cassidy.

First -- Happy New Year to those who are celebrating the arrival of the year 5772 in the Jewish calendar.

Next, Thanks to Karen Cote and Avery Aames for being my guests. There's still time to join the Thanksgiving Project and to win Avery's book, so scroll down if you haven't read their posts.

Please keep an eye on my sidebar. That's where you'll find updates, including savings on books and more.

And I've been negligent in mentioning that Sept. 24 - Oct. 1st is Banned Book Week. Don't take for granted our freedom to read. Check out these frequently challenged classics

When I was re-editing FINDING SARAH for its re-release, I thought I'd check to see if there were any scenes I'd cut that might be worth slipping back into the book, now that length was not the issue it was for the print version. I did expand one scene showing Randy at work as a detective, in what I'd called his "kitchen caper" scene, but when I looked at another scene I'd enjoyed writing, I decided it still didn't belong in the book.

Why? Because the scene didn't do anything other than keep Randy from getting back to Sarah. Now, pulling the hero and heroine apart can create conflict, but a scene needs more than one reason to exist in a book. And this scene just didn't have it.

But, because it was fun, I've added it to my Cutting Room Floor files on my website. Why don't you pop over and read it, and then come back to see the final, very much abridged, version.

Sometimes less is better.

Something about Sarah was making this case personal and he dug for professional detachment. Shit. His mind had wandered again and he slammed on the brakes at the glow of red taillights ahead of him, narrowly avoiding rear-ending a Toyota. Five-thirty already. Had Sarah left? He hadn't confirmed their appointment.

He reached for his cell phone and punched in Sarah's work number. Three rings. Four.

"Pick up, Sarah. You've got to be there," he said, as if speaking the words aloud would make it happen.

And who knows? Maybe some day Jerome Quincy will show up in another book. With chickens.

If I'd wanted to integrate the scene into the book, it would have been necessary to include characters that might reappear, or some other consequence of the traffic accident, or thrown in a clue or red herring for the mystery. Or, it could have resulted in a fight between Randy and Sarah,which would add to the relationship conflict, but none of the above seemed significant enough (or would have meant massive rewrites, which could have resulted in tangled continuity errors). So, it remained on my hard drive.

Come back tomorrow for another field trip. 

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Wynter Daniels said...

It's easy to get so attached to characters that we write scenes that don't necessarily need to be in the book. But those decisions are the stuff revisions are made of;-)

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I know what you mean...even if a scene is fun to write, if it's going to mean more work or confusion in the future, I yank it. But I have a graveyard of cuts for each book in Word....just in case I ever need it (which I can't imagine I would.)

Oh...unless you put some of the cut scenes as extras on ebooks! Idea!

Jan Morrison said...

yes, this is where I'm at - does the story need this scene, this chapter, this character, this word? I told my helpful editor that we were co-creating a narrative poem!

Terry Odell said...

Wynter - yes, I do tend to fall in love with my characters. I love to watch them play.

Elizabeth - yeah, my computer is full of those "snips" files. I haven't considered making them available as an e-book, though. I put some of them on my website.

Jan - writing IS work, isn't it. All phases of it. Some are more fun than others, but it's still work.

Margaret Fieland said...

Terry, I have a folder of cut scenes from my first novel.

Calisa Rhose said...

I have a file of these for each book. I love especially when I can cut all or part of a scene and the cut not entail a full rewrite to cover the scene deleted.

Thanks for sharing.

Cindy Keen Reynders said...

I have begun maintaining a word file for each book where I put what I call "background" information. It contains scenes I cut while doing my own editing. I believe they're important because even if they don't make the final edit, we learn more about our characters' personal lives and their motivations.

Sherry Gloag said...

Until going into edits for my debut novel, The Brat from The Wild Rosa Press, I hated cutting scenes.
With the awesome support of the editor I learned the power of chopping, cutting and stitching. It can be frustrating, but if accepted, iincredibly rewarding. I have few problems with cutting scenes now thanks to Cindy.

Anonymous said...

Cutting scenes can be tough for me but in the end it is often the right decision if it doesn't add anything significant to the story. One gauge I use is to ask myself if the scene (which is sometimes only there to facilitate a punchline or image) could easily be inserted in another story. If so, then I tend to lean towards cutting it.

Terry Odell said...

Margaret - I hate to throw things out, too!

Calisa - cutting while keeping continuity intact can be a challenge

Cindy - usually that's my first 4 or 5 chapters. All the background I need for me, but that doesn't help the story.

Sherry - a good editor can be a blessing.

f4f - Tom, it sounds like you've got a stockpile of ideas for new books!

Jemi Fraser said...

I'm learning to do this. It's really hard to cut out scenes you're attached to. I know there's one scene in a book I shelved that I love, but I know it would have to be scrapped if I ever moved forward with the book.

Terry Odell said...

Jemi - it's hard, but it's part of the process. And a good editor helps. A lot.

Jemi Fraser said...

PS - I just picked up both Finding Sarah & Hidden Fire - can't wait to read them! :)

Terry Odell said...

Jemi -- thanks! Hope you enjoy your time with Randy & Sarah.