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Thursday, October 18, 2012

More Author Insight: Story Scraps

What value if any do you find in a scene or entire story when you reach the point at which you realize just isn’t working? Do you ever save bits & pieces for later use?

"I recycle all the time! Even characters. Mia from The Dark Light was originally meant for a different story that ended up not suiting her at all. No writing is wasted. Just don’t be precious about cutting the stuff that isn’t working." - Sara Walsh, author of The Dark Light.

"I do! I have a folder on my desktop labeled 'Darlings', and I throw all the murdered bits into it - dialogue exchanges, scenes, sometimes just random snippets of descriptions. I probably won't ever use them again, but at least I can feel like they're not permanently gone." - Stefan Bachmann, author of The Peculiar.

"I hoard cut scenes! I have huge files of text that I’ve had to cut from one manuscript or another, in the hopes of finding a place to tuck them in. Sometimes, I do find new homes for these orphans." - Robin Bridges, author of The Unfailing Light.

"I find great value in writing things that end up in the bin. Only yesterday I wrote a 1500-word chapter that showed me my character was ten years too old, far too bland, and had am amazing connection to condiments. I will toss the entire thing…except the condiment part. I have been known to cannibalize stories or parts of stories. I don’t usually save all that much though—just a thought or a line or a character trait. The name of the heroine, Saffron Adams, in my first published book, The Dust of 100 Dogs, was really from my second [will never be published] novel." - A.S. King, author of Ask the Passengers.

"If I have scenes that are cut because a plot element in that scene has been cut then yes, I do save them because everyone loves deleted scenes. If it’s bad and needs to be rewritten, I’m okay with tossing it. A lot of writers do struggle with letting go of words they’ve worked hard to put on the page but I’ve personally never had that problem. Or at least my reluctance to cut scenes is very short- lived. Every scene you write for a book moves you toward the end result and a better finished product, even if those scenes are horrible and you end up slicing them and throwing them against the wall, it still gets you to the next step. That’s how I look at it. For me, it took writing six really bad novels before getting to one that was worth publishing. That’s a lot of scenes thrown out, but all of those pages helped me grow as a writer." - Julie Cross, author of Tempest and Vortex.

"I save everything in the hopes that it will come in handy at some point in the future. Given that my writing changes with every draft, I always want to be prepared in case I need to reference or re-use something that I’ve cut in the past. For me, the hardest thing to cut is humor between the characters, so this is something I always look for opportunities to bring back." - P.J. Hoover, author of Solstice.

"Writing is re-writing. For me, the initial flow of prose is rarely (not never, but rarely) what makes it on the final page. I like to get space and time away from a scene, or even individual paragraphs, to open up what is necessary and what is not." - Lara Avery, author of Anything But Ordinary.

"Always! I have a giant file of discarded writing. Occasionally, as I'm revising a book I come to a passage and think, "You know what? I did that better once. Where is that version?" Sometimes, I even find what I'm thinking about and use it." - Adam Gidwitz, author of In a Glass Grimmly.

"I save everything, even little sentences I’ve cut. Just because I think it’s not working at the moment doesn’t mean I won’t think differently in a day or two!" - Sharon Cameron, author of The Dark Unwinding.

"I never save bits and pieces. When I delete, it's gone. And for good reason. The lesson of letting go is one of the hardest in life and in writing." - Suzanne Selfors, author of The Sweetest Spell.

"Even if a scene ultimately doesn't work, the time I put into writing the wrong parts help me to write the right parts. Sometimes you have to try out a few different options before you discover which one works best. I do save every scene I write, and sometimes the parts that didn't work in one scene turn out to work in a different scene later on. I love it when that happens!" - Malinda Lo, author of Adaptation

On Tuesday, find out who the authors would have write their sequel if they couldn't. 

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