Slashed Scenes: The Cutting Room Floor of a Novel

Scenes can end up on the cutting room floor in the film industry or deleted in this digital age. An overstock of books become remainders and sit on the table marked “Sale” in a bookstore. Yet sometimes, a scene on the cutting room floor might create another movie. Or that table in the bookstore could hold remainders of books that inspire a completely new story.

When writing a novel, what happens to those scenes an author revises, or edits out altogether? Where do those ideas land? Do they disappear somewhere into the story—or are they gone forever?

Yesterday, I discovered a journal I kept while I was writing my novel “Those We Left Behind.” A school composition book with bright pink and yellow poppies bedecking the cover became a holding place for scenes I created, “ahas” that sprung out of the air, and sometimes an intriguing word I wanted to save.

This notebook was a collection of whole scenes that never made it to the published story.  When I found it in a box of old journals.I found some pages I wrote when I first began to imagine Casey who would become the  main protagonist in  my novel. It was a scene that in my storyteller’s flight of fancy was to be the prologue.

 These pages depict a character, Kirsten, who is giving a eulogy at her mother’s memorial.  Her mother is Casey MacMillan, the main character in my final draft of TWLB.  Her daughter Kirsten ended up disappearing, written out of the novel. Casey MacMillan remained alive and well throughout the story.

I believe, as I reread this eulogy given by her daughter who never appears in the final version, that this is when I discovered my character Casey before she landed on the page.  This eulogy was my way of writing a character study. It was part of my need to do what I call, ‘blue skying’ letting my imagination take me to unexpected places which might or might not become part of the story.

Kirsten did not land in the story, nor did her eulogy, yet the time spent creating that scene was a deep-rooted way into the nature of Casey who was to become the main character.

Sometimes whatever hits the ‘cutting room’ may have already played an important role in generating the story.

 Click here to read Kirsten’s eulogy for Casey.

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