Monday, January 19, 2009

Pre-loved scenes

A question for those of the writerly persuasion ...

A couple of days ago I came to a spot in my MS where I'd already written the next scene I needed. I wrote the scene a long while ago (maybe a year), and much about my characters and plot has changed since then. But being lazy, I thought I'd re-hash the existing scene instead of starting afresh,  and see how it went.
Not well, is how.  There were bits of the old scene I liked, but I found it a chore to tweak and change it to reflect all the changes that have happened. And once it was done, it was forced, flat, not right.

So I left it, mulled over it - and decided to scrap it. Yesterday, I started with a blank page, came back at the scene at a 180 degree angle, and it was much better. Much, much, better.

I can't help but be a bit dismayed by the time and words I lost in this process (and my writing time at present is very limited indeed!). But I guess it's like baking - if you add plain flour when you really need self-raising, if you only put in two eggs when you need three, no amount of tweaking the recipe is going to save that cake. Better to lick the beaters and start afresh; but maybe that's just me? What do you do? Recycle the scene, or start from scratch? 


Deniz Bevan said...

I'm no help at all, because I probably have gone through the same process as you a number of times, and I never seem to learn :-) I'm always hung up on saving one or another of the phrases from the original, thinking that they're perfect, and it takes me forever to realise that writing a whole new scene is often the best way to go... Don't think of it as lost words though, think of it as practice or learning or fleshing out the characters or... :-))

Anonymous said...

That's one of the reasons I gradually moved to writing linearly. I could never quite fit in stuff I'd written out of order. Even writing linearly, though, I still write lots of words that end up in the circular file. *g* Sometimes I have to write it to learn something _I_ need to know but that the book ultimately doesn't need.

the petal falls said...

Hey Rach,

I probably have a good 100k words that will never be read by another soul -story lines changing, scenes falling under the axe for word count reasons. That use to bother me.

Now I can say with all sincerity that the true joy came while writing those scenes, not afterward. That might have been more lip service than anything before, but since I've been working on my second WIP, (with completely different characters) I know it to be true. Take joy in creation, not recognition. And hey, if you want it read, I'll be your huckleberry. ;-)


Rachel said...

Deniz - You know, I agree; writing a whole new scene is a much better approach. I really, really understand this. But still, I feel the pull to re-hash the old scene. I guess I'm lazy/impatient/in too much of a rush. Sigh. But you're right. It _is_ best to start from scratch. In the future, I'll try harder to think of my old scenes as "practice", instead of "a big fat waste of time". (bg)

Kathy - ah, I do write linearly. The scene in question was one I thought I could salvage from the huge amount of words I chucked out when I had an epiphany about my story, and so much of it changed. I know better now. (wry grin). And you're right - some scenes just have to be written, even though they will never see the light of day.

Kristen - ah, my friend, you are so right. And your offer is very kind, but I won't put you through that torture. I'm going to torture you enough when I eventually ask you to beta read the whole damn mess. (vbg)

Word Gardener said...

It's a step on the way to the scene that the story needs. It is not wasted effort, or time, or caffeine. Without that first rendition, the 180 scene might not work as well. It's like the words you cut but your readers somehow "get" anyway. There is no concrete evidence of the work, but it's there just the same.

My Vancouver said...

Don't lick that beater, Rachel! It's a tragedy waiting to happen.

Rachel said...

Kathleen - I guess I'm just very short on writing time at them moment, almost to the point my story has ground to a halt, and any re-writing feels like I'm treading water. But I know I'm not. And you're so right!

Reisa - Whath's that thu thay? (bg)