The Agony of Scrapping Beloved Scenes

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

Writing well is about making tough decisions. You’ve heard authors talk about being ruthless during edits and I’ve always taken it with a grain of salt, fully prepared to do as they suggest but not sure of the personal effects.

It’s brutal!

You pour your heart and soul into the first draft. Your mind fires rapidly as words, sentences, paragraphs and scenes flow onto the page. Then, oh, then – you begin edits. You tinker with things. You flesh out characters. You layer in background information. And suddenly you realize it’s not enough.

To be true to the story and the characters you must do away with certain aspects, no matter how brilliantly written they are. It becomes apparent you’ve taken the long way toward a goal and it makes more sense to take the shortcut, or vice versa. Either way, you must let go of beloved sentences, paragraphs and sometimes entire scenes. Only then will you truly have a second draft.

It’s not easy. You change one thing then realize you’ll have to change another and another and another all while keeping your characters on the path that leads to the climax.

Did I mention it’s brutal?

So what makes us return to our craft day after day? It would be much easier to scrap the project and writing altogether. Surely we could find something else to occupy our time.

The only answer I can surmise is passion. We are passionate about the stories in our head. To deny our passion causes misery.

So, we release our stories, word after word, sentence after sentence, paragraph after paragraph, scene after scene, chapter after chapter. And when it comes time to edit we hack away at our creation. We add filament and filler. We massage the story, the plot and the characters until they stand on their own.

The mixture of euphoria and agony that goes into writing will always call to us. We passionate writers will willingly become slaves to our passion over and over. When the time comes to scrap that beloved scene we shall do so ruthlessly; we will bear the pain stoically because what’s best for the story will always come first.

  • mooderino

    Beforehand it’s always agony to cut stuff, but afterwards it’s hard to remember what all the fuss was about.

  • mooderino

    Beforehand it’s always agony to cut stuff, but afterwards it’s hard to remember what all the fuss was about.

  • So true! It is brutal. I’ve actually used that as a sort of indicator for how much I really love a project. If, once I’ve finished the first drafts and realized how much work it still needs, I’m willing to keep going — then I truly love that project and believe in it. But if the work doesn’t seem worth it, I acknowledge that I’m not passionate enough about that particular one and move on.

    • That’s a great indicator, Annie. I can’t count the first drafts that have been tossed aside because I couldn’t find the enthusiasm to keep working on them.