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Old 02-06-2013, 08:01 AM   #1
Papaya
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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?
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Old 02-06-2013, 08:08 AM   #2
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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.
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Old 02-06-2013, 08:11 AM   #3
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... because it really isn't necessary ...
Ummm.... Why are you asking then?

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Old 02-06-2013, 08:19 AM   #4
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Ummm.... Why are you asking then?
*Echoes*
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Old 02-06-2013, 09:28 AM   #5
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If you like it and beta readers like it, you should probably keep it.
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Old 02-06-2013, 10:05 AM   #6
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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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Old 02-06-2013, 10:23 AM   #7
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Ummm.... Why are you asking then?

Jeff
Another echo.

Unnecessary scenes belong in the Recycle Bin.
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Old 02-06-2013, 11:54 AM   #8
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I suggest you should keep it, since it's already there then let it be there.
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Old 02-06-2013, 01:53 PM   #9
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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.
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Old 02-06-2013, 02:31 PM   #10
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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.

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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.

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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; 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.
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Old 02-06-2013, 04:05 PM   #11
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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.
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Old 02-06-2013, 04:12 PM   #12
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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.

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Old 02-06-2013, 04:35 PM   #13
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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.
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Old 02-06-2013, 05:31 PM   #14
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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.
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Old 02-06-2013, 06:09 PM   #15
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It was an innocent little thread on AW but now its days are numbered?
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Old 02-06-2013, 06:50 PM   #16
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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?
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Old 02-06-2013, 06:52 PM   #17
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Old 02-06-2013, 07:14 PM   #18
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I think they call Medi.
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Old 02-06-2013, 07:24 PM   #19
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I think they call Medi.
That's adorable.
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Old 02-06-2013, 07:30 PM   #20
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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.
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Old 02-06-2013, 10:23 PM   #21
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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.
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Old 02-06-2013, 10:34 PM   #22
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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. 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.
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Old 02-06-2013, 10:55 PM   #23
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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.
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Old 02-07-2013, 04:26 AM   #24
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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.
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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