Monday, May 23, 2011

Manuscript surgery

There's a scene in my work-in-progress that I initially thought was key. The scene's main event is mentioned on the first page of the book; I  threaded it throughout the book, and placed a fleshed-out version of the scene late in the book. Then I changed a couple of things about the event in that scene. Then a couple more. I added other scenes that do some of what that scene used to do. Now I'm at the point where I'm questioning whether I need the scene at all.

Taking it out would take the book in a slightly different direction. It's not a huge plot shift--more of a shift in characterization. But it amuses me that this scene, which was a big part of how I first found my way into this book, may end up on the cutting-room floor. It's like a sketch line that gets erased or painted over; it's the basting stitch that gets pulled. If you had told me even a week ago that this scene might not be necessary, I would have scoffed. But sometimes you tap on a wall and realize that not only is it not a load-bearing wall, it's actually in the way of what you need to do.

Two other quick items that may be of interest:

Book Chic is hosting a giveaway of The Secret Year: visit his blog to enter. Your chances are excellent; you can sneak in there and get it while everyone else is at BEA. ;-)

But of course, not quite everyone is at BEA. I've been hosting a #notatBEA party on Twitter for those of us not at the Book Expo this week. It's come as you are and do what you like, since the beauty of a virtual party is that nobody has to clean up after it! Dancing, virtual snacks, and silly tweets are encouraged.


  1. How's the party? I love not having to clean up after.

    Thanks for sharing your experience with dealing with that scene. I loved your analogy of the sketch line being painted over.

    It aptly describes what I felt when I had to do the same thing. I find it so intersting to see how other writers work.

  2. It's been amazing to me how many other writers have reported the same experience, deleting the scene that led them into a story in the first place!