Thursday, December 10, 2009

The pirate and the pack rat

In my non-writing life, I'm not a pack rat, I'm a purger. I have a Goodwill donations bag going at all times, and I relentlessly thin the morass on a regular basis.

I will admit that moving frequently helps. No place for that thingamabob in the new house? Toss it. ;-)

However, in my writing, I horde and reuse scenes as if they were precious heirlooms. On my current WIP, I took out 20,000 words, and nearly started over, but I didn't toss those scenes. Instead, I moved them into my unused scenes folder (Scrivener makes this super easy), and raided them (the pirate part) later for usable material.

Heck, I poured hours of effort into those words. Why not repurpose them, if possible?

Even though my plot went in a different direction, there were perfectly good elements buried in those deleted scenes. With a few tweaks, the sex scene in the bedroom could be brought back wholesale. A part where I described the scenery as they drove north fit perfectly into a later scene. (The reason they were traveling changed, but the scenery didn't.)

Sure, most of my hard-earned prose is destined to stay in the dustbin, but there's no reason not to recycle when it works. And for the rest of those words? Writing is never a waste of time. It's part of the learning process. Every word gets us closer to the one million mark.

Happy Holidays!


Christine said...

I never throw massive amounts of work away. Heck, I'm still farming LOVE BUILDS A CHANCE for the scenery (that book will see the light of day--in parts of other books LOL).

I love the term: pirating. I use "steal."


M.V.Freeman said...

Hey, its your writing, you are not stealing or pirating. You are being economical. :0)

I do the same thing, why not? There is always something left to use...sometimes I move it to a different story...

Merry Christmas!

Carla Swafford said...

Me too! ::waving frantically:: Each story has another file called for example "THE PREACHERS SON History." In goes all the details of the characters (hair and eye color, height, scars, etc.) and any deleted scenes along with research info that includes urls and such.

Jeanie said...


I, too, recycle! I keep an index where I store things I remove, keep tabs of characters, eye color, etc., and horde funny sayings for later use.

And a good thing, too! I recently went back and rewrote the beginning of the fantasy I've been working on (for like the fifteenth time, no kidding. I have issues with the beginning of a book!) and dusted off an older version of the beginning and plugged it back in. How sad I would be if I hadn't saved it! It's almost impossible for me to go back and recreate something, so it's much better if I put it away on the off chance it might come in handy some day!

Gwen Hernandez said...

Christine: I've considered farming my first MS for future stories, although it's not neatly organized in Scrivener for me.

Mary: I just love the whole pirate thing. ;-)

Carla & Jeanie: I'm with you on the characteristics, too. I have a characters file, a document for each character with all the pertinent info, and all my research, etc.

And, Jeanie, I've rewritten the beginning of all three MSs now. Plus, I have ~100 pages of two that I've never finished. I'm hoping to learn how NOT to do that someday! =D