Wednesday, March 18, 2009

And That’s Why I have a Scrap File

I’ve been chugging away and making steady progress on the first draft of HB2 (Haven book 2) but I have to say, some times I feel a slight bit of déjà vu while I’m writing. You see, I technically wrote a first draft of HB2 several years ago, but near the end, I changed the plot in a major way without backtracking to fix the first 2/3rds of the book. Add the fact that I’ve had a couple years of writing experience (and improvement) since the last time I touched that draft, and you can guess why, when I recently re-read the draft, I decided starting from scratch would be easier than trying to repair the old draft. So, I am, in fact, writing the first draft—again.

That said, some of the scenes from the original were quite cute/useful/etc and will make it back into the book (though written completely fresh.) Many are still in the outline, but are, of course, changed in drastic ways by the new course of the plot. I was writing one of these scenes the other day, and getting rather discouraged as it just wasn’t working. I looked at my notes in my outline, and the scene appeared to fit. But it didn’t. It just died on the page. So, I pulled up that lost forgotten file, and discovered that when I originally wrote the scene, one of the characters had an extra nudge of motivation that tipped the scale. I worked that motivation in and, like magic, the scene suddenly took on new life.

I’m glad I didn’t delete that old file (and let me tell you, it was tempting) but my habit is to save everything. Each book I write has a file called “Scrap.” As I rip things out of a novel (dialogue, description, scenes, or in this case, an entire draft) I dump them into that scrap file. Once in a while, I dig through my scraps looking for hidden treasures. I might not end up using them in the same story, or even for the same character the text was originally written, but sometimes that discarded bit of writing can be shined up and worked into a scene in a new way. This time, finding that character's extra motivation saved me a lot of headache, and might have even saved the scene. So keep your junk—you never know what it might be good for.

Anyone have a good story about reusing cut material? How about some tiny thing that saved an entire scene?


purpleprose 78 said...

I've never done that, but I will have a scrap file for TDC when it is time to edit it.


haricot vert said...

Not so much from a scrap file, but an idea that I wanted to use but couldn't in one place, fit like money into a different area. It was like... majic.
That being said, I do keep scrap files. Mainly because I'm a pack rat and can't bear to throw things away. :)