|Credit: Kranky's Cartoons|
I keep old revisions just in case my fantabulous new idea ends up being a nose-picking dud. It's far easier to revert to a slightly less sucktastic version than to try to undo all the all of the latest changes. I've some stories whose revision numbers are dangerously close to thirty.
Book One: Chapter 16 - Scene 2
As for scenes that are near and dear to my heart but not so near and dear to the story? Well, of course I keep them. Some end up being more relevant in the sequel. Some end up being damn fine stand-alone shorts -- change the names, dim the setting, and voila! A short story. Some, well, some, just sit in a cold, dark, buried file-folder never to be seen again.
The one thing about which I try to be more ruthless is knowing when to cut a scene versus when to revise the supporting scenes. It's not always easy to recognize. If in doubt, I ask my editorial brain these questions:
- Does this scene advance the plot? (If "no," then cut)
- What are the key conflicts, revelations, and/or resolutions delivered in this scene? (If less than three, then cut)
- Can I move those key elements to another scene? (If "yes," then cut)
- Can the key elements be presented in a more active way that will advance the plot? (If "no," then drink more and ask the Magic 8-Ball again)
Which are you, dear readers? Are you the tinfoil or the trashcan type?