It goes without saying that when it comes time to revise the first draft of your manuscript, much of it is going to end up on the cutting room floor. Whether it’s due to shifting plotlines, characters that no longer work, or scenes that are too long, removal is part of the process. (And of course, some of what we all write the first time around is simply…awful.)
The delete key doesn’t have to mean the end, however. For those snippets of dialogue that you like but just aren’t a fit, or the descriptions that are no longer necessary due to a change in setting, why not keep them around? That’s what I do. Anytime I cut something I like, I create a new Word document and save it for possible future use.
For example, years ago I wrote a scene about a burglary that I ended up not using for various reasons. I liked it though, so I saved it in a document as “Burglary scene.” Fast forward to a few months ago, when I was working on a new novel and thought, “Hey, I bet a burglary would work well here.” So I went into my files, found the “Burglary scene” document, and pasted it in. Granted I had to massage it to make sure it gelled with the new plot, characters, etc. But the essence of what I’d originally written remained. And being able to use something I’d been so fond of, albeit years later, felt great.
Cutting anything from a manuscript you’ve worked so hard on is never easy, but saving the phrases, scenes, and descriptions you like makes doing so much easier to swallow. And who knows? One day you just might find a home for them.
Source: Maria Murnane
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