Monday, 10 October 2011

Are the scenes we cut out a waste of time?

I recently took an Autumn scene out of my novel, 'The Grandson' (which I've almost finished editing).  The heroine's mother, Mary was sitting on a bench in her garden under an apple tree.  An apple fell to the ground with a thud and she pulled a letter out of her pocket from her only daughter, Jessica.  The letter said Jessica had met an Italian-American man whilst studying in Italy.  Mary's greatest fear was Jessica settling anywhere away from their Yorkshire village, never mind another country. She wanted Jessica to marry Tom, son of the neighbouring farmer but Jessica knew he was only interested in her parents' land. 
            During this scene Mary looked around her garden and she felt miserable because summer was over.  She looked up at the tree branches laden with apples and instead of seeing their beauty, she thought about the work she needed to do to clear up the rotten ones being eaten by wasps on the ground.  She'd have to get the leaf-blower out. The broken acorns and hazelnut shells would need to be picked up by hand.  Everything would have to go on the compost heap which was a mess and needed sorting out.  It was time to mow the lawn again. The tree needed pruning and the ripe apples needed to be picked and converted into chutney, apple and blackberry jam and crumble.
            I cut this scene out of 'The Grandson' because it didn't move the plot forwards. Initially I wrote it because I like writing scenes which happen in places I enjoy being in.  The only aspect of the scene which moved the plot forwards was the letter.  Mary didn't need to receive a letter to find out this information.  Jessica could tell her when she got home from Italy. So I cut and pasted it into my 'deletedbits' folder in word. I may use it as inspiration for a short story or for a scene in another book. Once I would have seen writing this scene as having wasted my time. But now I know that it helped me get to know Mary so that her character came across better in her other scenes.

Comment below made by Ruth Brandt - thanks Ruth! Anita.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like you made a good decision there, Anita. It is so hard to delete many thousands of carefully chosen words which create a beautiful, vibrant scene and yet so vital if they detract from the story's progress. And a really good idea to highlight that what is left out is as important as what is kept in - brilliant way to look at writing. Really interesting blog.