Editing Creative Writing: Thoughts after cutting out two entire scenes from my WIP

cut cut cut! snip snip.

cut cut cut! snip snip.

It’s been a busy editing stint for me this month! If you follow my blog, I’ve written about how I’ve been jumping around to edit and how much I love my beta readers because they make me cut stuff. At this point, I’ve cut over 7 full pages of single-spaced text from a Word doc of “The King’s Sons.” That includes two entire, albeit shorter, scenes from near the end. That wasn’t easy to do, for a number of reasons. So I thought I’d reflect on the experience here. I admit, cutting out a whole scene like that is rare for me, so it’s made me think.

  • MOST THINGS THAT ARE WORTHWHILE ARE DIFFICULT. So cutting these scenes wasn’t easy for me. There were aspects of them I liked, and that I was sorry to lose. But it was definitely worthwhile. I think the story as a whole is better for the change: more cohesive, and better paced. While I liked those moments, that in and of itself is not enough to justify not cutting something if the fact that I like it is really the only justification to keep it.
  • I’M GLAD I TOOK THE TIME TO SECOND GUESS MY DECISION TO CUT. What I mean by that is, I didn’t make the choice lightly. I read through the scenes extensively, double-checking that there was no really vital information there, and that the novel would be okay without them. In some ways I think I was just being a coward and trying to give those scenes a reprieve. But I knew I shouldn’t keep them, and I didn’t in the end. What I did do was reassure myself that I made the right decision, which helped me feel better about cutting.
  • SOMETIMES MINOR CHARACTERS NEED TO STAY MINOR. Especially in a trilogy about four families’ worth of people, complete with their kids. That’s why, out of a lot of things that happen after the book’s major showdown–too many things, if I’m honest–I chose to totally scrap the account of a minor character’s homecoming after a battle. I really enjoy that character. And I wanted to see him arrive home again and know that everything would be all right for him. But upon reflection I felt the story makes that clear without me having to show it, based upon a couple of comments another person makes earlier. Also, the scene had some description problems. And honestly, I didn’t like that I brought this character’s kids into a scene at the novel’s end when they had never been seen before. So I cut.
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10 responses to “Editing Creative Writing: Thoughts after cutting out two entire scenes from my WIP

  1. I am back to pick your brain..lol.. I’ve been asked to join a group on Goodreads where we are beta readers for short stories. The moderator of the group has been writing for many years and he asked me if I would be his beta reader for 3 short stories. I know reviewing, but it is an overview as a reader on a book or story. What particular things should I be looking for? What do you want your beta readers to look for in particular? Do you have a worksheet that you have them follow? I want to be effective for him, not just say , hey everything is great! That is not a help, and if you’ve ever read my reviews, you know that isn’t my style anyway,. 🙂 I received the nicest letter yesterday about my reviews, I was really touched by it. Thanks for your help. It is much appreciated! 🙂

    • you are very welcome, Rebecca!!! My beta readers leave me, generally two types of comments as they go through the text. The first are about things they feel particularly well. The second are about things that don’t. If something is worded awkwardly, or doesn’t make sense to them, or they feel things are moving too slow, or they don’t understand why a character is acting a certain way…. Or, if they simply don’t find a chapter engaging them, they’ll let me know. It’s very helpful!

      I don’t send a particular worksheet to my betareaders. But I know some people do. If you find one that you like, you could use it as a guide when you beta read, but I personally don’t do that. I just give my honest reactions and act my beta readers to do the same.

  2. Thanks, I like that idea better anyway. I am not a lover of boxed in type of things, one of the reasons I don’t like outlines, and it sounds similar to what I am doing already. That helps a lot. Again, I appreciate your input. 🙂

  3. I know what you mean. There is this one scene in A Mage’s Power that I really liked for the world building but it made the scene drag so I removed it.

    About the minor characters, did you still include that ‘yes, this character goes home’ and stuff even if you didn’t include the scene itself? Personally, I like seeing that kind of ‘epilogue-y- stuff.

    • Great point/suggestion, Brian!!! I do mention that he goes home. It’s just not seen and dwelt upon for three pages anymore 🙂 I did feel it was necessary to clarify that it happened. It’s just not interesting enough to see. Nothing’s really at stake there.

      • Three pages?! Yes, that is excessive for a minor character.

        • It was one page in Word, but would have come out to 2.5, 3 typed pages in the novel…. definitely too much. I owe a lot to my beta readers for pointing out that I went a bit overboard with all the wrap-out stuff. I ended up cutting quite a bit that needed to go.

  4. My record to date is a 10,000 word cut from a draft that I already considered a final draft. That included an entire chapter. Not that we’re comparing scars or anything… 🙂

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