Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Repackaging Leftovers: Tinfoil or Trashcan

Credit: Kranky's Cartoons
I'm one of those writers who saves every revision and every cut scene. What I do with those leftovers depends on how well they were "cooked" the first time.

Revision 22.9
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:
  1. Does this scene advance the plot? (If "no," then cut)
  2. What are the key conflicts, revelations, and/or resolutions delivered in this scene? (If less than three, then cut)
  3. Can I move those key elements to another scene? (If "yes," then cut)
  4. 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)
As any weight-loss guru will tell you, it's okay to leave food on your plate. The question is knowing whether to put that food in tinfoil or the trashcan.

Which are you, dear readers? Are you the tinfoil or the trashcan type?

Photo: http://www.krankyscartoons.com/National_Clinton.htm


  1. LOL, just about everything goes into tinfoil. I have scads of files, folders, CDs and USB drive space devoted to old bits. I may never use any of it again, but I can't bear to delete it.

    1. Yes! Another member of the tinfoil troupe!