Peek-A-Boo: Behind the Scenes Part 2

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Two translucent sculptures the size of children, one with a street pole through his body, standing on a sidewalk curb. They are made out of what looks like Scotch tape.

Tape Sculpture by storker http://www.flickr.com/photos/storker/27472838/ CC 3.0

The flip-side to behind-the-scenes commentary is the deleted scene. It’s interesting to see how they fit, or rather, didn’t fit in.

Sometimes the commentary will mention why certain scenes were cut, but usually the viewer is left to figure it out on her own. Every once in a while, there’s a surprise: what appears to be a throw-away line later on suddenly makes sense and starts to carry weight, or an entirely new character is born and vanishes in those few seconds.

Generally, however, deleted scenes are a bust; the why of it is obvious: the original was scene was too long, the joke wasn’t funny, or the scene didn’t add anything.

And yet, those scenes were originally deemed good enough, important enough and relevant enough to be written and filmed.

They obviously got nixed in the editing room, but did the writer or director know those scenes were going to get the ax even as they were being created?

I wonder which of Julia‘s scenes will end up on the cutting room floor. Is it the one that, even as I type it, I question if it’s worth writing? Or is it one that I’m so passionate about that I’m blind to its absurd length, bad joke and redundancy?

Why would I keep writing a scene if I thought it would just get deleted later? Sometimes I delete it before finishing. Other times, though, there is a kernel that I just need to get out. It might bloom into a good idea or plot point, or it might not. However, I won’t know until I read the piece as a whole.

There’s also part of me is concerned that I need more words. I’m afraid that I’ll tighten and tweak Julia right out of novel status, but that she’ll still be too long for a short story. I don’t want her to languish in novella purgatory and never be published or read.

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10 thoughts on “Peek-A-Boo: Behind the Scenes Part 2

  1. Joy

    Well, you have to bear in mind that movies often have the opposite problem you have… the director will have hours and hours and hours of footage that must be edited and pared down into something shorter than 2 or so hours… very few movies can get away with being any longer than that, because audiences don’t want to sit much longer than that.

    So, while the director has the actors and crew available, they just shoot everything single thing they think they might possibly want from the script, because if they don’t get it now, they’ll never have it. Editing is for later, after you have every shot you could want, you start paring it down to make a cohesive (and appropriately long) movie. Some scenes get cut so they can get a PG-13 instead of an R rating, some because they aren’t good, some because of time constraints, etc. etc. etc. The point of the thing is the director always knows he’ll have more than he really needs, but he wants to be able to pick and choose.

    (My husband has a few technical criticisms of my analysis here, but agrees I’ve got the essence of the situation. ;)).

    In your case, it sounds like you’re trying to edit before you even get a chance to write, so as not to waste any time writing something you might have to chop later. I’m not sure you’re doing yourself a service… I understand the tendency, because I do it too, 😀 but I don’t know that it helps.

    Since I’m always full of helpful homework suggestions 😉 I would suggest you not worry about whether it’s worthy of your book as you write it, and just WRITE it. Get every single idea down on paper somewhere, and then worry about editing later. Yeah, there might be some stuff you look at later and realize it doesn’t really work, but that’s OK… at least you gave it a chance, you know? If you chop stuff before it’s even fully formed, you may miss out.

    • Homework, eh? It’s a good point. There was a scene I was waffling on, but I’ve left it in. We’ll see how it pans out…

      Mainly, I worry about should-be-deleted scenes taking me in direction Z when I clearly need to go in direction A.

  2. I love deleted scenes and asked myself exactly those same questions. You can often see in the final cut that the scenes would have cluttered or confused the story, or that they weakened it – but it’s heartening to see that for a long time the director couldn’t see that. Just like the darlings we hold onto in our novels.

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