However, it’s highly unlikely that every word written is worthy of staying on the page.
Some of it needs to be cut.
To grow and improve as a writer, it’s important to become aware of when a scene, or ugh sometimes an entire chapter, need to be eliminated.
While everyone has their own writing process, generally it’s tough to tell if a scene needs to be cut until the story is finished. In fact, there’s a lot to be said for not cutting anything during the actual writing process. Save it for the editing room.
How To Know When To Cut
It’s actually easy to know when to cut a scene, though actually doing it can be quite difficult.
- Does the scene further the story?
- Can the story succeed without it?
- Can the information in the scene be revealed or communicated better in a different scene?
For example, I cut 8000 words from my manuscript the other day. Painful, yes. Extremely painful.
How did I know the material needed to be cut?
It didn’t further the book – it was simply clutter to occupy the characters and add wordcount to the story. 8000 words of dialogue and the characters overcoming minor obstacles. However, during that time the characters were revealing bits and pieces about their feelings for each other. This was accomplished through inner dialogue and actual dialogue.
I wanted those emotions to be in the story. It’s a romance after all.
After some heartfelt decision making, I realized I could relocate this dialogue (internal and otherwise) to other locations throughout the story. It’s a better story because of it. Like ripping a bandaid off quickly, once the scene is gone it all looks and feels much better.
But What Do You Do With Those Cut Scenes?
Chances are you put a lot of hard work into those scenes and simply erasing them from existence just doesn’t make sense to me. I have a nice and tidy folder for the cut scenes from each book. I label the scene for what it is and tuck it away. Hey, you never know when a cut scene might turn into a new story idea!
So….cut liberally and make your story the best it can be. Be ruthless with your story.
Don’t hang onto a scene simply because you wrote it. You may love the scene but if it doesn’t make your story better, it has got to go.
However, do keep those deleted scenes. Tuck them away in a folder. You never know when you might use them.