One Writer’s Journey

June 15, 2017

Rewriting: Cutting those Precious Scenes

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:28 am
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“Be willing to kill your darlings.”

In any other vocation, that advice would raise eyebrows but as a writer it is pretty straight forward.  You have to be willing to cut excess verbage.  And most of us don’t have any problem with that.  We are perfectly willing to cut a word here or a phrase there.

But we hesitate when it comes time to cut several paragraphs, a sidebar, a scene or a chapter. It took so long to weave those sentences together.  So very long.  ::whimper::

This was the situation I found myself in as I rewrote Advertising Overload earlier this week.  Somehow, I had written sidebars on what an infomercial is in both chapter 2 and chapter 5.  And the two weren’t even substantially different.  It was pretty easy for me to decide which one had to go.  But then I also realized that the ending of chapter 3 too closely mirrored the beginning of chapter 4.  It meant having to cut an entire page or about three paragraphs.

Oh. So. Painful.

When I have to delete a block of paragraphs, a scene or a chapter, I’ve found something that helps.  I don’t highlight and then delete.  Instead I cut the passages that need to go and then I paste them into a new file.  Yep, I save them.  That way if it turns out that this section really was essential than I still have it.  All I have to do is go to the correct file and copy then paste it back into my manuscript.

On a good day, I call this file “cuttings” or “stuff.”  That’s usually when I ‘m cutting a few paragraphs.  If, on the other hand, I’m cutting a scene or chapter, I’m much more likely to come up with a vaguely impolite name but I definitely save it.  It makes it a lot easier to cut things if I know that they aren’t really gone.  They’re just out of the way.

The amazing thing?  I almost never go back to this file so that I can restore something.  It just makes it easier to do what is essential.


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