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Thread: To Cut or Not to Cut

  1. #1
    Unfold your own myth. - Rumi Papaya's Avatar
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    To Cut or Not to Cut

    I'm toying with the idea of cutting the opening scene in my book, but I'm not sure it's the right thing to do because of all the positive feedback I got from my first round of beta readers. I've spent more time rewriting the opening scene than on any other 1000 words in the book, but I'm still not satisfied with it. At this point I'm inclined to ditch the scene because it really isn't necessary and has started to feel out of place. I got some excellent feedback on my first three sentences and that's got me to rethinking the whole scene. The only reason I don't just go ahead and cut the scene is because it does seem to work as I originally intended; it builds intrigue from the very start. So, should I keep trying to make the opening scene work or am I just wasting my time?

    Let yourself become living poetry. - Rumi

  2. #2
    writer, rider, reader...ex-pat! BethS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Papaya View Post
    I'm toying with the idea of cutting the opening scene in my book, but I'm not sure it's the right thing to do because of all the positive feedback I got from my first round of beta readers.
    Get your 50 posts and put it in SYW. Though ultimately, you're the only one who can know whether it's really pulling its weight.

  3. #3
    Benefactor Member WeaselFire's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Papaya View Post
    ... because it really isn't necessary ...
    Ummm.... Why are you asking then?

    Jeff

  4. #4
    The Crazy Man in the Sun. Feel me. WillSauger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WeaselFire View Post
    Ummm.... Why are you asking then?
    *Echoes*
    Don't Fear Failure.

    "The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn" -- Alvin Toffler.

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  5. #5
    practical experience, FTW rwm4768's Avatar
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    If you like it and beta readers like it, you should probably keep it.

  6. #6
    creative genie katci13's Avatar
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    If it's building intrigue, I would keep it. But like BethS said, you're the only one who really knows if it needs to be there or not. Either way, if you've edited it that much, it's probably time to leave it alone and move on to another part of the story.

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  7. #7
    Tell it like it Is Susan Littlefield's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WeaselFire View Post
    Ummm.... Why are you asking then?

    Jeff
    Another echo.

    Unnecessary scenes belong in the Recycle Bin.
    Susan

    Please visit my website: http://www.susanlittlefield.blogspot.com/


  8. #8
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    I suggest you should keep it, since it's already there then let it be there.

  9. #9
    Writing my way off the B Ark Becky Black's Avatar
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    In the end, no matter how well written a scene, if it doesn't fit, then it has to go. I've started editing a draft from last year and the first thing I did was cut the opening scene. Okay, it introduced us to the situation and a couple of characters, and it was trying hard to be tense, but it wasn't tense it was just dull, becauue there was no conflict. I think cutting it and starting with the next scene - and a different POV character - creates a much better start.

    If your writers instincts are telling you this scene is not needed, then cut it. Take a look at what you can salvage from it and say elsewhere, then get it out of there. Sometimes you can get away with a scene that isn't absolutely crucial to the plot but is character revealing for example. But that would be later in the book, not at the start.
    Writer of m/m and f/f romance. My books and stories are available from Loose Id, JMS Books and Dreamspinner Press. See more details in my Absolute Write Library thread.

  10. #10
    Super Procrastinator Kallithrix's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Papaya View Post
    I'm toying with the idea of cutting the opening scene in my book, but I'm not sure it's the right thing to do because of all the positive feedback I got from my first round of beta readers.
    Sometimes we know something's wrong, but we try to convince ourselves it's ok because people seem to like it. Well, there's no accounting for taste. People like all kinds of shit, but that doesn't always means it's good

    This is a good example of when to stop listening to betas and trust your gut.

    Quote Originally Posted by Papaya View Post
    At this point I'm inclined to ditch the scene because it really isn't necessary and has started to feel out of place.
    Then the only thing stopping you is... what?

    Be gutsy. Go with your instincts. Every time I have known I need to cut something, but really don't want to, I've done it anyway. And it has always proven to be the right decision.

    Quote Originally Posted by Papaya View Post
    The only reason I don't just go ahead and cut the scene is because it does seem to work as I originally intended; it builds intrigue from the very start.
    This isn't a good enough reason in and of itself. There are thousands of ways to build intrigue in a scene, but it still has to fulfil other purposes and be right for your story. If intrigue is the only this scene has got going for it, sounds like it's not pulling its weight.
    "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."








  11. #11
    practical experience, FTW
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    Save a new copy of the file under a new name. Delete the scene. Put the book aside for, say, a month. Read it again without that scene.

  12. #12
    greatest writer of his generation u.v.ray's Avatar
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    >> The only reason I don't just go ahead and cut the scene is because it does seem to work as I originally intended <<


    The Nazi party seemed to work as Adolf Hitler originally intended. And look what happened there. A complete catastrophe that left half the globe in ruins.

    Mark my words. Nip it in the bud before the whole thing goes pear shaped.



    "We Are Glass is a bruising encounter yet it flickers with compassion and is the best short story collection Iíve read since Dan Fanteís Corksucker back in 2005" -- Mark Raison.

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  13. #13
    Tribal Wanderer Writelock's Avatar
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    Honestly, I am a "when in doubt, cut" kind of guy. As long as you save a copy of the original, there won't be a problem. Besides, it seems like your subconscious agrees with me.
    The artist formally known as "Ne".

  14. #14
    Huh. kkbe's Avatar
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    I get the vaccilation. You worked the shit out of it, invested blood, sweat and tears in it. You thought you were set. You breathed a sigh of relief because the thing served its purpose. You let some people read it and responses were positive.

    But now it feels out of place.

    Trust your gut.
    Last edited by kkbe; 02-06-2013 at 10:30 PM. Reason: edit on the fly
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  15. #15
    practical experience, FTW
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    It was an innocent little thread on AW but now its days are numbered?

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by u.v.ray View Post
    >> The only reason I don't just go ahead and cut the scene is because it does seem to work as I originally intended <<


    The Nazi party seemed to work as Adolf Hitler originally intended. And look what happened there. A complete catastrophe that left half the globe in ruins.

    Mark my words. Nip it in the bud before the whole thing goes pear shaped.

    Do people still call Godwin?

  17. #17
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    circumsize

  18. #18
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    I think they call Medi.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buffysquirrel View Post
    I think they call Medi.
    That's adorable.

  20. #20
    Moderation in All Things AW Moderator Roger J Carlson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Papaya View Post
    At this point I'm inclined to ditch the scene because it really isn't necessary and has started to feel out of place. ...

    ...The only reason I don't just go ahead and cut the scene is because it does seem to work as I originally intended; it builds intrigue from the very start.
    These sentences appear contradictory. If it is necessary to build intrigue from the start, then leave it. But if the rest of the story doesn't depend on the intrigue created in the first chapter, cut it.
    --Roger J. Carlson

    If you've received spam from me, my apologies. My gmail contact list was stolen and they spoof me every couple of months. Nothing I can do, but if you get spam from roger.j.carlsonATgmailDOTCOM, just put the address in your block list. I still receive email there, but I don't send from that address anymore.

  21. #21
    Unfold your own myth. - Rumi Papaya's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kallithrix View Post
    Sometimes we know something's wrong, but we try to convince ourselves it's ok because people seem to like it. Well, there's no accounting for taste. People like all kinds of shit, but that doesn't always means it's good

    This is a good example of when to stop listening to betas and trust your gut.


    Then the only thing stopping you is... what?

    Be gutsy. Go with your instincts. Every time I have known I need to cut something, but really don't want to, I've done it anyway. And it has always proven to be the right decision.


    This isn't a good enough reason in and of itself. There are thousands of ways to build intrigue in a scene, but it still has to fulfil other purposes and be right for your story. If intrigue is the only this scene has got going for it, sounds like it's not pulling its weight.
    Thank you all for your advice.

    I had a feeling that a lot of you would confirm what I've already been feeling which is that I should go ahead and cut the scene. I just wasn't entirely sure because of my betas response.

    Let yourself become living poetry. - Rumi

  22. #22
    Unfold your own myth. - Rumi Papaya's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kkbe View Post
    I get the vaccilation. You worked the shit out of it, invested blood, sweat and tears in it. You thought you were set. You breathed a sigh of relief because the thing served its purpose. Then you let some people read it and responses were positive.

    But now it feels out of place.

    Trust your gut.
    Yes, that sums it up nicely. I wish I hadn't wasted so much time on the scene. At least I've been away from the book long enough that I have absolutely no sentimental attachment. At this point, I think I would rather cut it than deal with it. That makes following my gut a lot easier.

    Let yourself become living poetry. - Rumi

  23. #23
    Unfold your own myth. - Rumi Papaya's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Becky Black View Post
    In the end, no matter how well written a scene, if it doesn't fit, then it has to go. I've started editing a draft from last year and the first thing I did was cut the opening scene. Okay, it introduced us to the situation and a couple of characters, and it was trying hard to be tense, but it wasn't tense it was just dull, becauue there was no conflict. I think cutting it and starting with the next scene - and a different POV character - creates a much better start.

    If your writers instincts are telling you this scene is not needed, then cut it. Take a look at what you can salvage from it and say elsewhere, then get it out of there. Sometimes you can get away with a scene that isn't absolutely crucial to the plot but is character revealing for example. But that would be later in the book, not at the start.
    Thanks for the good advice. Although not identical, this does sound very similar to my situation. Basically, I think I've been trying to do too much at the very beginning of my novel. Timing is everything as they say, including when you introduce certain characters/environments.

    Let yourself become living poetry. - Rumi

  24. #24
    steaming up the e-readers TheaBlowsKisses's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buffysquirrel View Post
    Save a new copy of the file under a new name. Delete the scene. Put the book aside for, say, a month. Read it again without that scene.
    I did this once. (Though I didn't wait a month. And it was two whole chapters.) The cut stuff never made it back in, except for maybe a paragraph or two. It was scary at first, but ultimately the right decision. The book got published, and hey! Now I have some extra material/deleted scenes to maybe toss up on my website!

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