Bringing a Story to Life – Should I Stay or Should I Go?

film-cutting-7202477Due to production timing, I’ve gone back to finish Metatron’s Legacy.

It was in 1stdraft.


50-50 Work.  When revising, it’s part edit, part continue the story.  It’s the chance to add scenes and enhance characters, polish dialogue, and transform the story from the basics to the finished product. It’s also the time to determine what, if anything, should, be cut.

There is a philosophy among certain editors that it is more difficult for a new/aspiring writer to add than cut so it’s best to avoid those who fall short or barely make minimum word count in their proposals.

As Stephen King points out in his On Writing, this, as well as the improper use of commas, can be viewed as an excuse.

Deciding what to cut is not as straight forward as it might seem.

Easy.  For me, the obvious scene to cut is one that takes the character out of character. If I write a scene wherein any character, including secondary/ supporting characters suddenly behave in a way that is inconsistent with who they are supposed to be or what they are supposed to be accomplishing or preventing, it ends up being cut later.

It doesn’t take long to realize it needs to go.  Usually, some part of me knows immediately and generally, while drifting off to sleep I give myself the directive to revisit the scene in the morning.

Not So Easy.  There are times when the scene is good and appropriate to the character – in a given context.

In Metatron’s Legacy, there is a scene that wouldn’t normally make sense.  However, given the situation the main character finds herself in, it’s conceivable she would do what she is doing.

Considerations.  If it isn’t clear whether or not a scene should be cut, I put myself in the reader’s shoes.

Will the reader be able to empathize with the character/understand why the character is/is not doing something specific?

I put myself in the author’s shoes.

What is it I think I’m going to accomplish by keeping the scene versus what I would lose if I pull it?

Decorations.  If I decide that it’s worth keeping the scene – as I’ve done in this particular instance – I may edit it and/or partially rewrite it so that it works.

In doing so, I cater to the reader and their need to empathize with the character and why that character is/is not doing something.

I may add dialogue or a supporting scene later to elaborate further on character motivation/thinking and though it may appear that if such is necessary, that’s a good reason to cut the scene, it comes down to a simple question:

  • What do I gain by leaving it in?
  • What do I lose by taking it out?

Hesitations.  I can think of one instance when it isn’t a good idea to add/keep a scene, word count.

This is the equivalent of using the a and but and that unnecessarily and screams novice.

Readers are smart. They know when a scene is a desperate act.

Like keeping up small talk to be polite when you’re both probably better off just going off to do something else.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s