Saturday, 12 May 2012

Don't Trash It!

Among the things this writing stuff has shown me, is that the more you write and read, the more you learn, and - nothing needs to be wasted.

Two of my published manuscripts changed markedly during the editing process, when words like 'I don't think you need this chapter'. and 'Start the story further in'. had me cringing.

Not because I believed my prose to be remarkable and needed sharing with the world [as if!] but because I had spent hours, days, weeks sometimes researching the historical aspects - from what play was being performed in the theatre in the town where my characters stayed, to what a fashionable lady wore to socialise that year.

Cut the chapters I did, but at the same time shed a silent tear for all that lost work. At the time I doubted I would write a similar book, so imagined this research would be consigned to oblivion - like all those misplaced modifiers that keep tripping me up.

Not so - I began putting together the structure for another story this weekend  and those files fit my storyboard perfectly. It's made that first blank page look so much more inviting and I was able to compose six thousand words in the first sitting - not perfect ones, but hey, word count is wordcount.

So don't ditch that chapter you thought you couldn't use - one day it will jump out at you and you'll re-work into a better crafted, more fascinating work.

Now what else is sitting in this trash can on my desktop.....

9 comments:

Anne Gallagher said...

I so hear you there. I cut so many scraps out of my first manuscript ever, I now have enough words to complete a whole other book. Not that I could, but at least I can use them for my million word count that every author needs.

Jen Black said...

Totally agree - keep every scrap because if nothing else, all that info keeps you in the story when you glance through it

Maggi Andersen said...

I never throw anything away for that reason. Writers are like weavers, we can adapt it and thread that scene in somewhere. What we have to watch though, is too much of an info dump which doesn't move the story forward.

Anita Davison said...

Absolutely Maggi, and for that very reason I have just rewritten the first chapter as I was setting a complicated scene that should really evolve as the story unfolds. But it's great to have most of the research done and I can now concentrate on the plot.

Deborah Swift said...

I feel your pain! Just had to lose a few thousand words from my latest. But I've taken your advice and squirrelled it away for a future recycling adventure!

Morgan Mandel said...

Actually, it's good if you have someone who is knowledgeable enough to offer an in depth critique of your manuscript. It saves the trouble of figuring out what's right and what's wrong with it, and gives you an opportunity to make it all it can be.

Morgan Mandel
http://morgansbooklinks.blogspot.com

Lisabet Sarai said...

These days, readers are hungry for more stories set in your books world. So you may be able to adapt excised chapters and scenes into shorts, teasers, or other non-novel-length works that will support your more major pubs.

Excellent post!

Ginger Simpson said...

I agree. I've recycled throw-aways several times. What might not fit at the beginning of a story may very well slip nicely into the middle or end. Isn't it amazing how we learn and grow the longer we do this?

goodgentlewoman said...

Some excellent advice here - thank you everyone.

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