“Useless”scenes that don’t fit the plan of the novel

Posted on January 5th, 2006 @ 18:48
Filed Under Scenes, Writing | 6 Comments

I’m very talented at that–writing scenes that I can’t use, or that turn out to be “too much”. I suspect it’s because I very often start by creating the characters instead of the plot, and as a result, I end up writing bits of scenes and chapters in the spur of the moment, only to realize later on that they don’t fit the general plan.

Truth be told, I’m calling them “useless” just because of this, because I spent time on something that doesn’t further the novel’s story itself. In a way, they are useful, since they allow me to develop the characters, to explore heir personalities, to set up events to react to, and this always turns to be a positive point when it comes to writing the “real” chapters. Thanks to the insight they help me get regarding my heroes, antagonists and even secondary characters, I can’t say that I’ve ever wasted time on working on such scenes. They also remain unedited, by the way; I don’t go around reading and rewriting half-chapters that aren’t placed within the flow of the plot yet. On this, at least, I don’t waste time.

I have a bunch of such scenes for my next project, the one which I’ve built a whole world for, and now need to shorten the plot. They’re scenes that I like, sometimes strong in feelings, sometimes presenting an interesting event. I know I can’t keep them all, though, else my first volume only would either be 300,000 words long or separated in two or three books, and this is definitely too much (no, don’t count on me to pull a Jordan here; I said this would be a trilogy, and I’m going to stick to it). Albeit necessary, getting rid of them can be painful; this said, I just can’t stop writing such bits at times. This would be part of the need to simply write and work on world-building, I think.

There’s no way I can be the only author in this world to do this. Out of curiosity, who else has this tendency to craft scenes that end up not being used (whether they have a writing plan beforehand or not)?

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6 Responses to ““Useless”scenes that don’t fit the plan of the novel”

  1. melly on January 5th, 2006 11:25 pm

    It happens more often than I care to acknowledge ;) But like you said, these scenes aren’t completely useless, they at least help me develop the character, backstory, plot better. It helps me understand the premise better by knowing I shouldn’t use them.But, and it’s a big but, they take up time and that’s a shame :)

  2. Chris H on January 6th, 2006 12:06 am

    I subscribe to the Stephen King School of Thought on writing and don’t plot but rather write from a starting situation.It is damn hard to let go of your babies. You put all the effort in and sometimes there’s something clever, but you know it’s all just unnecessary fluff.I get it most when I try to write the story rather than letting my characters dictate it to me. (Reminds me of something I heard Charles Schultz of Charlie Brown fame say once: “Don’t tell your characters what to say, let them tell you”)So yeah, we probably all do it whether we write from situation or plot, and I’m sure we probably all struggle to cut them.

  3. Yzabel on January 6th, 2006 7:03 pm

    Melly–Aye, aye, they take time. Sometimes, I regret not having used that time to write the “real” scenes, but then, I wonder if without these, the plan of my story would have evolved the same way?

  4. Yzabel on January 6th, 2006 7:04 pm

    Chris–Perhaps I should peruse this school of thought. I suspect I’ll need a plan in the end no matter what, but new experiences never harm!

  5. Deborah on January 7th, 2006 2:17 am

    “Sometimes, I regret not having used that time to write the “real” scenes . . .”Don’t they seem real at the time? It’s the editing process that makes us aware that they don’t always fit. As for planning, I try to nail the ending down before I get too far into the story. Sometimes, though, the ending isn’t what I thought it was going to be.

  6. Yzabel on January 7th, 2006 12:42 pm

    Ah, yes, at the time, they seem real enough. I suppose this “wasting time” stuff also comes from me having realized that I work better with a plan, rather than counting on raw inspiration only.I have the same issue with endings. Right now, I’m considering changing the ending of my NaNovel, already written, but not fitting completely anymore in my opinion. Looks like editing will be a daunting task once again ;)

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