History That Never Was

Home of Dawn Vogel: Writer, Historian, Geek

Writing Scenes to Cut Them

Writer at work on a typewriterRecently, I started working on a new story, and wrote what I originally thought would be the first scene of that story. As I worked on it, though, I realized that while something momentous was happening, it wasn’t the momentous thing that the story was going to need. But I kept writing it anyway, because it was helping me to work out the relationship between two characters, which ultimately informs how they got to where they need to be when the actual story opens.

It’s a scene that will likely never see the light of day, and yet it’s a critical part of the writing process for me, because without that scene, I likely would have been flailing around trying to shoehorn in the backstory and the relationship. Now that I’ve established all that in text, rather than just in my mind, I’ve got a point from which I can jump off for the story. I may reference some of what I wrote, but ultimately, it was an exercise in prewriting–getting ready to actually tell the story.

Many new authors need to practice knowing where their story actually begins, and this is exactly the sort of scene that, as a newer author, I would have written and included, not realizing that it’s really an extraneous detail to the actual story. I’ve learned to cull this sort of thing, but I still find writing them can sometimes be a boon to me.

So for this story, I’ll file this away in my notes, and refer back to it when I write the actual story. And I think that my story will be all the stronger for it!


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One Response to “Writing Scenes to Cut Them”

  1. manda says:

    I do this. Many times I have written a whole scene only to replace it with a two-sentence summary of itself in subsequent drafts. Sometimes I just need to know *concretely* what I’m referencing. Also: it’s fun to have ‘deleted scenes’ to share later on. :p

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