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Repurposed Scenes: Keep or Toss?

I set myself a single goal for this week: Finish the nightmare scene.  It’s the next scene in the outline.  Shouldn’t be any big deal.  I was shooting for about 1500 words, which is a reasonable goal this week, as classes started back on Monday, and I’m trying to get back into the swing of things.

Except that I haven’t touched HiS since Friday.  I actually haven’t touched anything writing wise.  I’ve been on a reading kick instead.  I did OPEN the file on Monday, review what I had of the previous scene.   Then I closed it again.

Well, last night I sat down to work on my scene worksheet for this one, which I hadn’t done yet.  And my justification for keeping it in was pretty thin.  It’s not any kind of SURPRISE that Conall’s having nightmares about losing the trials and Marley being killed.  This isn’t new information.  The highlight of the scene is him waking up and finding she’s gone. See, in the original version of the outline, this nightmare was meant to lead into a makeup love scene (because they’ve been fighting).  Now that I’ve taken that off the table by having her kidnapped again, it kind of lost its original purpose.

It’s ironic that in the past during my pantser days, I’d have taken this and run with it anyway.  And probably would have cut it in revisions.  Or changed it at least.  Wasted a lot of time either way.

Now…at least I’m trying to identify the solution before I write.

I think this is sometimes a challenge for writers who plot.  Plotting is hard.  I won’t lie about that.  And some writers are more resistant to changing things in their outline once it’s finished.  Because changing things means that other things have to change because every scene has (or should have) repercussions on down the timeline of events.  I’ve gotten better about this.  It’s far less painful for me to axe things from an outline and change things there than when I’ve already written it.  Though I’ve been known to cut tens of thousands of words from things already written as well.  Doing it while things are still in outline form feels less like self-mutilation.

So in this particular case, I decided I’m focusing on the wrong thing.  Originally, I wanted him to have this nightmare, then wake up and she’s not there so that it’s a surprise.  And then I’d go to her in the next scene or two to explain where she is.  Instead, I’m going to jump back into my Machiavellian asshole bad guy’s head to show this latest kidnapping as it’s happening.  Which, let’s face it, is far more interesting.  The nightmare, then, will still happen, but it will be an abbreviated version used as a sequel to get into Conall waking up (and timed in such a way that the reader thinks he still has a shot at rescuing her) and finding her gone.  So it’s a keeper, but with some changes.  I can live with that.

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