Derrick Hibbard (at derrickhibbard.com) just recently related that one of his favorite things about DVDs are the extras that come with them. You’ll get to see behind the scenes featurettes, watch outtakes and sometimes, if you’re lucky, you’ll get to see certain deleted or altered scenes.
Almost every writer knows the feeling. You start with something you feel fully engaged with, but along the way, you realize that what you’re writing is either poorly implemented, or needless for the story to progress. You want your readers to feel like they don’t have to trudge through the muddled parts of your tale – often, you want to get them right into the thick of the action. Every intricate detail is important, and if you have a chapter or a section that doesn’t flow just right, it ends up on the chopping block.
Hibbard knows the feeling all too well. His editors gave the first chapter of his novel, This Side of Eden, the axe. It wasn’t a bad chapter, as you can see if you visit his blog. It just didn’t fit with everything else that he was working with at the time.
In some ways, it’s a blessing when you can take a few pages that you’ve written and move them into the recycling bin.
There are some times when you write yourself into a corner that you can’t write your way out of. As an author, you’re always looking at yourself and critiquing. Two of my novels in the Tellest series are already out, and a third is on the way. The first book, The Bindings of Fate, has a particularly muddled section that, over time, I’ve become a little disappointed in. It’s not exactly necessary. I wrote the scenes just so that the protagonist could get a little more face time – a little more time in front of the reader. The biggest hurdle that it’s become, if you can call it that, is that I now have to write around it.
I’m happy with where that little sidestep led me. Not only did it stitch a nice little path for my story to take, but it somehow keeps sneaking its way into the ongoing story. The inclusion of, what I thought at the time, was a fluff piece had proven to be just as important as anything else I’ve written. It’s a strange sensation.
On the hind end of working on the conclusion to the first trilogy in the Tellest series, I’m noticing that there are some new muddy parts in this novel. Inevitably, I’m going to have to go back and change these ones, or cut them out entirely. It’s just an endless cycle, and one that I’ve learned to embrace fully.
Maybe some day I’ll let readers see the scraps that have fallen on the cutting room floor. I commend Mr. Hibbard for doing so. For me, I’m not quite there yet.