Do You Need That Scene?

Photo Credit: E. Briel on Flickr

For me at least, one of the most difficult things I had to come to terms with when learning how to edit, was cutting. In theory, it makes sense. Not everything you write in the first draft is going to be worthy of sticking around until the final draft. I understood that.

In practice though, it was a little more difficult.

You see, I didn’t mind cutting lines or even entire paragraphs—those could be easily replaced. But when it occurred to me I might need to cut entire scenes or even characters, well, that was a little more painful.

But truth be told, editing doesn't mean cutting the occasional paragraph here and there and tweaking character traits. Sometimes editing requires that you be brutally honest with yourself and answer some difficult questions.

Questions like, do I really need this scene?

Think about it. Go through your WIP and pick a random scene. Could your book still make sense without it? Is it just there for the sake of being there?  

If you answered “yes” to either of those questions, then you have two options:
  1. Cut it.
  2. Make it essential.

Both are going to require some legwork on your part, but consider this: every chapter, every scene, every page and paragraph and sentence should serve one major purpose—to keep your readers reading. The moment they reach a point in your novel that is less than spectacular, you risk losing them.

Here’s a hint: Unessential scenes are not spectacular.

Whether you decide to cut it altogether or rewrite it with purpose is up to you, but if you come across a “meh” scene in your WIP, changes need to be made. “Meh” is ok for first drafts, but it has no place in your final copy.

No one said writing was easy, but the extra effort you take to make sure every scene shines will make your novel that much better.

Have you ever had to cut a scene from your WIP? Was it worth the extra effort? 

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