Throwing Away Half a Scene

I threw away half a scene yesterday.

It was an unexpected scene, one involving cops, that I’d thought would appear later. In my outline, the cops show up on the second day. But it makes sense for them to show up now – don’t cops show up after an explosion?

I was writing on and on and on and getting no where. I knew what I wanted to write, but that wasn’t what was showing up on my screen. I wanted something crispy, but instead I got two people arguing and getting no where. Finally, I realized that I needed to throw away the last 300 words. I replaced them with about 150 words. It was better. Faster, with the crispness I was looking for.

Why couldn’t I have realized that before I’d finished the damn thing? It felt like wasted effort.






12 thoughts on “Throwing Away Half a Scene

  1. It is annoying when you write a scene and realise there isn’t any usable material. But at least you’ve learnt from it, and it’s much easier to fix something in a first draft than it would have been later to edit. Sometimes we have to do things twice to get it right, even if we wish we got it first time. I’ve been in the same position too many times to count.

  2. A musician I interviewed a little while ago told me it is not the songs he released he is most proud of. It’s the ones he had the wherewithal to trash. I think something similar applies to writing fiction. Never be afraid to throw something away. A story doesn’t benefit from ALL the scenes you have written. It benefits only from the good ones.
    Trimming the “fat” might be a painful process sometimes but once you have done it you can pat yourself on the back for having just improved your story.

  3. Been there, done that haha. It’s so awful when that happens, especially–as you’ve mentioned–when the scene you’re working on is one you’ve been waiting to write for a while, and then you realize that it just doesn’t work. I’ve lost thousands of words thanks to that.

  4. Totally done that 🙂 It happens in two ways for me.

    One: I see a scene and then start writing it, but I find it REALLY HARD to keep going. Like, something isn’t work, but I don’t know what. I just think I’m not writing fast enough. Usually, I end up changing what I was doing and revising it really quick to match the new idea and everything from there will just roll right out.

    Two: I have NO IDEA what I’m going to do with the scene and just… go with it. Usually very hard for me to write, and much like #1, I end up changing what I’m doing and get a clear picture of what I want…then everything flows 🙂

    Yup. My life.

  5. $70? My, that’s a pretty big gamble on a big belly to take. I hope he can out jump his opponent!

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