Bringing Scenes Back from the Dead

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Brown bear sitting in the middle of rapids with his paw on his face.

D’oh by BlackburnPhoto CC 3.0 flickr.com/photos/dobieks/3857058185 …because cute animals make us all feel better

Note to self: ALWAYS reread your scenes.

During editing scenes get changed, cut, resurrected, killed again and tweaked beyond recognition. It’s a part of writing…some would even say it is the essence of writing.

I’m working on a story right now that has gone through all those changes a couple of times. I cut one of my favorite scenes in the manuscript because it just wasn’t working like it needed to. Now, a year later, I’ve rethought the surgery. I even figured out how I could work the scene into the current manuscript with minimal painful edits.

All went swimmingly…until I read the new and old scenes together. Turns out that I thought I knew my beloved scene so well that I didn’t bother to reread it before editing everything to make it fit. What I remembered about the scene was there. But there was an additional, minor thing that placed the entire scene further down on the timeline…turns out that was actually the point of the scene.

When I discovered my mistake I wasn’t upset at the work I’d need to undo. I felt stupid because I should know better. No matter how well you think you know your story, you don’t.

Editing is not just shuffling. It’s reading.

Anyone else have a d’oh writing moment that they’re willing to share?

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5 thoughts on “Bringing Scenes Back from the Dead

  1. I actually read a published book that had an enormous slip. A leftover from a previous draft.

    In the published veriosn, one of the character’s was the MC’s aunt. But for one paragraph about 2/3 in she became the grandmother. Ohhhh was I confused. I was flipping back and forth and thinking, it’s a relic the editors didn’t catch–but, no, how can it be? Well, it clearly was….agh.

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