Why you need to cut that scene

The current WIP has been the WIP for years now. It started as a quick easy distraction, and somehow I had convinced myself that this was the project to finish.  It would be quick and easy because the story was just pouring out of me, and I wasn’t dealing with any magic or building a universe, just playing in the mundane world with other people’s hearts and emotions.  Pretty much I had taken my underlying love of romance, and decided to focus on just that, and the basic formula for a romance novel is pretty simple, you give them a happily ever after, so the plotting was easy enough.  But the devil is in the details and the more I worked on it, the more complex the thought of finishing it became.  Draft 0 was a hot mess, and slogging through that and fixing that has taken the majority of the time.

I have written scenes multiple times. The same scene told 2 or 3 different ways from the same two narrators.  I wrote it like this with these consequences hanging in the air.  Or a little different, if I place the event over here, because over here they aren’t getting along, but if I move it to later in the story, all of the tension dissipates because they are getting along, and I can’t have them sniping at each other, when they are GETTING along.

There was a scene I had worked over multiple times. I really really really loved this scene.  But the further I got into the novel the more it looked like it wouldn’t fit.  See it was an early attempt to get the two characters who were going to fall in love to um fall in love.  It was filled with sexual tension, and vitriol and an awareness of each other that can only be described as magnetic.  It was a gorgeous scene.  I LOVED this scene.  So I moved it to the trash can.

But then I was like, oh I loved that scene so, maybe I can resurrect it and put it over there. Forgetting all the reasons for the tension, and only remembering that I loved it and the kissy bits.  I re-read it yesterday.  Thinking with a little bit of editing I could make it work again.  Conclusion, no amount of editing will make that work.  If I start cutting out all the reasons they where snippy with each other, then I get rid of all of that tension, and that sense of collision.  It just becomes boring.

On top of that the characters don’t make sense with the novel. I had the girl in the scene doing things that are now completely out of character.  I’m reading this and going, while I like this, it is not you any longer.  This is not who you are at your soul.  Yes you are fierce, but you are not confident in that fierceness.  And this scene had way too much confidence in it.

What I am doing is rewriting it. I’m taking the setting.  I’m taking the events.  But I’m rewriting the motivation to get them to a point where it works.  That means dialogue and body language, and internal monologue has to be redone.  It means that of a scene of 3k works, I might have salvaged 500 in setting and even that had to be reworked, because setting is a reflection of atmosphere, and I’m tweaking the atmosphere, for anticipation, rather than animosity.

I used to bemoan all of the words I was cutting from my novel. Especially the brilliant bits, that where amazing writing that just didn’t fit any longer. But that’s the thing as a writer.  It’s kind of like trying on clothes, you think you like that sweater hanging on the hanger, but once you put it on, it doesn’t look flattering on you any longer.  I liked the scene by itself, but in context with the rest of the novel, it wasn’t working. It doesn’t make it a bad scene, it just means I have to accept the fact that it doesn’t belong.

Cutting now though, doesn’t bother so much. I like seeing the brilliant bits I’m not keeping, only to know that you can be brilliant in multiple ways, and not all ideas work. It’s kind of like doing spring cleaning, and clearing away extraneous clutter.  When you’re done, you have this complete project that works cohesively, instead of a contrast of characters arcs that no longer fit.

Editing for me right now is a combination of cutting, rearranging, and drafting new bits to fit the gaps. It’s a lot tougher than drafting, and takes a lot more attention to detail, because this is where you take all of those disparaging parts, and turn them into once collective.  It’s a craft of its own.  It’s challenging, and I never thought it would take me this long to get through it.  At the beginning I thought of this as an easy distraction, the project I would finally make to the end.  It will definitely be that project, the one I make to the end, but it has turned out to be not as easy as I thought.  Still though, worth it.

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