Friday, January 25, 2008

The Fine Art of Letting Go

Have you ever had one of those scenes you just love so much the idea of cutting even a single word fills you with a sense of horror so acute it's as if someone suggested you shave your head bald? I have one of those scenes in Brimstone. I love this scene. I love the characters in this scene and how they relate to one another. It was one of those scenes where everything came together perfectly. All five senses were engaged. The dialogue fit perfectly. The sexual tension was top notch. It is a pivotal scene in the book and it worked beautifully.

The only problem? Devlin treated Isabel with too much kindness and consideration. Not that the guy doesn't have it in him, he does, buried there somewhere within all that bitter resentment. But it shouldn't be showing up this soon. He has to struggle first, this need has to beat down his barriers and the body armor he wears before he can give in to it and let it happen. At this point, the two should still be fighting against their attraction, neither wanting to admit or acknowledge it even exists.

And so the scene had to be drastically altered. I fought against it. For the past two weeks I have done nothing but work on this scene and tried to keep it close to what I had and yet change the dynamic between the two. But it kept falling flat. It felt insincere and the emotions and reactions were all over the map, swinging one way, then the other.

I couldn't figure out what to do. Or rather, I knew what I had to do, I just didn't want to do it. Worst of all, I didn't know what to put in its place. Then Tuesday night it hit me (that was the 3 AM epiphany mentioned in the previous post). The setting stays the same. Some of the emotions, once altered slightly were also salvageable. Most of the dialogue, however, changed. And how they related to one another also changed. Their thoughts and reactions became all new. Finally--finally!--it had come together. The scene was different than the original, but it fit the story much better.

And I learned a valuable lesson--that sometimes you have to let something you love go in order for it to grow and change and become what you need.

I'm sure there is a life lesson in there as well, but for now, I'll stick with the writing lesson. One thing at a time, right?

10 comments:

Kacey said...

Sometimes I have to force myself to completely throw out a scene and rewrite it to get it right. But I just HATE doing it when I love the original scene. I sometimes find, if I've gotten the emotions wrong (too early), that I can move the scene to later in the book and rework it for there.

Cat Schield said...

I think deleting or changing a scene that seems perfect and that you love is the hardest thing to do. Congrats for recognizing that it wasn't working and for moving forward with the changes. Don't edits suck? I'd rather write 20 books than edit 1. Yet what you get in the end is worth all the sweat.

Rene said...

Oh, I have been there. But I always keep the scene in mind because I might be able to use it somewhere else. I do know that feeling very well.

Melissa Marsh said...

I hate cutting scenes so much that I actually have a folder on my computer for "deleted scenes."

Annie Mac said...

Once I write something into a story I have a really hard time deleting it. I will slowly change it though over each pass through of the revisions. It doesn't seem to hurt so much that way.

Bailey Stewart said...

If you love something, set it free. If it comes back it's yours, if it doesn't ...

I think the same thing applies to scenes in books. I have read many a published author talk about cutting "the scene" for the sake of the book. Good job hon.

Lexi said...

And what tremendous strength of a writer to be able to delete a scene you love! Excellent decision, Kelly!

Dixie Belle said...

Sounds like you have great instincts when it comes to your characters!

Joanna D'Angelo said...

Hey Kelly,

I've been there - so painful to do!
Keep it in your "much loved but deleted file". All for the good of the book! :)
jojo

julia said...

I'm having this same distress with my revisions, Kelly. I can't call it anything else. Distress!