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But I Love That Scene!

Sometimes you’re writing or editing, and you realize that a scene you’ve written isn’t driving the plot or helping with characterization. It’s not building the setting. It’s not even comic relief. In fact, it’s not doing much of anything except slowing the story down (One might even call it a tangent.).

So take that bit out. What’s the problem?

Well, the problem is that you really like that scene. You’re pleased with the dialogue, you’re proud of the imagery, and you like reading it. You don’t want to let it go.

I’m about to sound like a mother talking to a kid about a broken toy: if you can find a way to fix it, you can keep it. If there’s a way to link it to the plot later or to add some important characterization or even to move it so that it doesn’t feel like it’s slowing the story, then, it’s fine. My only caution is don’t weaken the rest of your story to fit one scene in.

If your story is strong, and it works together, it’s usually best to remove the scene that isn’t working. Especially if you found the problem in a finished book. If you can fix the problem by taking the scene out, take the scene out (Remember – that’s only if it’s not important to the plot, characterization, or setting!).

Now, that doesn’t mean that you delete this scene that you really like. Dialogue, imagery, fun to read – if it’s got all that going for it, why not turn it into a short story? You can send it to a magazine, use it on your website, or put it in a book of short stories involving the same world or characters. You might even write a spin-off novel/novella with one of the minor characters as the new protagonist.

Think of it like a 2 for 1 deal: your story gets fixed, AND you get a new short story to use. Win-win, right?

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