Friday, April 28, 2017

A to Z: Editing Fiction - The Story of Xander

2017 THEME: Editing Fiction (Because that's what I'm in the middle of doing.)

What is the Blogging from A to Z challenge and where can I find more participants? Right here.

The tale of Xander: Not everything that gets cut is a lost causeYes, you caught me, I'm using Xander for another year, but he's appropriate to the conversation, so bear with me.

Just because you have to cut a scene, a thing, a character, chapter, beginning, prologue, etc, doesn't mean it's gone forever. We've already covered keeping that sacred 'fall back' first draft, but really, everything you write is a learning experience. You're getting better, stretching your mind and creativity, perhaps trying something new. That new thing just might not have a place in this particular story.

So what to do with all that stuff that ends up on the cutting room floor?

Well, those ugly scenes, toss those. In re-writing them, you've already learned why they didn't work and how to fix/prevent them in future stories.

Characters? Keep them in a file. You never know when you might need to revive one and toss them back into play. That's where Xander comes in. He was cut when two characters were combined to create the same character development experience for the MC. When it came time to write Chain of Grey, the sequel to Trust, I found a spot for him, altered a bit, but he was happily back in action.

Stuff, like bits of technology, magic spells, races, entire scenes, songs, history of your world, etc, maybe they'd fit somewhere else, like a short story based in the same world, a sequel, or blog posts when you're ready to market your soon-to-be published book. Maybe they'll spark another story entirely and launch you into your next project.

Or maybe those bits are just a learning experience. No words are wasted words. Unless you're really drunk. Then literally, yes.

Do you recycle some discarded words or toss them all away?


  1. I can't think of an example of re-using cut material, but I often use material I had planned for something else. Like, I have an idea for a character or a scene in a particular story I would one day like to write, but then suddenly realize it would fit into my current WIP. I figure why wait for something that I may or may not ever get around to writing? Might as well use if now if I can.

    X - Brother XII, Canada's Own Crazy Cultist!

  2. If it's a perfectly good scene, but just messes with the pacing and doesn't turn out to be really needed (in other words, lost due to story tightening), then I'll sometimes use it in a "deleted scenes" blog post for fans of the story.

  3. To recycle or toss it? I like your idea of keeping characters in a file, they can easily be used in a story of their own or something else. Scenes and other stuff, I think it depends. I usually cut and toss, but I think it was something I was particularly attached to I would file it for later.
    Stopping by from A to Z: X words

  4. Love the idea of hanging onto characters until you find an appropriate story for them to fit into. Just in this A to Z, I've cut things out of posts and used them later. I cut a story out of an earlier orphanage post that has morphed into my Y post for tomorrow.

    Emily | My Life In Ecuador | Xanthophobia, Xenoepist, Xyzlacatosis

  5. Like Emily, I cut some text out of my V post which was getting too obese, and used it in my W post which was desperately skinny. But generally if I don't like something, I just rewrite it - and leave the scene sulking on my hard drive. It is a disaster, but somehow I remember the characters if I need them again. X is for the X factor as you Build a Better Blog. #AtoZchallenge.

    1. you "leave the scene sulking on your hard drive". That's a good line.

  6. Hi Jean - I keep a lot of stuff that others have written ... and often use two or three things together ... gives more interest to the post ... still I am too often V for verbose ... cheers this is for Xshort (ish) comment!! Hilary

  7. I keep my cuts around here and there with no order to them. They often need reworking if they are to be used in another place. Characters especially never really die, they just wait for the right story.

    My Fragmented Journey

  8. It's definitely worth keeping hold of them. Like you say, you never know where they could come in handy.

  9. I have a totally disorganized rabble of ideas, lines and characters. Random computer files, scraps of paper, dusty shelves in my mind. I've never cut anything, then later resurrected it or reworked it. And I don't go searching for all those bits and pieces. For me, just writing them down somewhere helps me to remember them or to forget them. I don't know. I don't have a system.

  10. I have definitely reused all kinds of things. Scenes that didn't fit in one story were perfect for another part of the series. Characters that weren't write for one tale migrated over into another. When being creative, you really have to keep an open mind (which makes it so much easier to let things go while editing, knowing it may not ever be truly gone or wasted...but as you said, you have to keep the file around, just in case). :-)


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