By Kele Moon
My new novel, Beyond Eden is by no means a short story. At over 120,000 words it’s certainly longer than the average erotic romance and I worried about breaking the current tending by putting such a hefty book on the market. Imagine my surprise when readers started sending me emails thanking me for writing a longer novel that they could really sink their teeth into. I was stunned at how many people were grateful for the longer length of the book, many begging me not to write shorter books in the future.
What people may be surprised to learn is that in another file on my computer, I have approximately 80,000 words of cut scenes from Beyond Eden. I’m a perfectionist when it comes to writing. If a scene didn’t work for me I’d simply cut it and start over.
I heard the advice at a writer’s conference that if you have reached a point where you can’t write anymore, if you’re stuck and unable to push forward in writing the story, it’s possible you’ve taken a wrong turn. The suggestion was to go back, try to find where the wrong turn was taken and then cut and start over. It’s been a hugely successful tactic for me as a writer, even if I had to put scenes I loved into a cut file that will probably only ever be read by me.
I think a lot of authors hesitate to cut scenes once they are written, feeling like their work is being wasted, but I don’t think that’s true. I actually went back and read through all the cut scenes from Beyond Eden not too long ago and I was shocked to see how much of what I cut ended up being used in different ways for other parts of the story. It turned out the ideas were right, I was just putting them in the wrong places. Other scenes that didn’t end up in the story at all still helped shape and define the characters. Even if certain bits were left out of the story, they existed to me as an author and helped define the characters in a way that made them live and breathe for the readers.
No writing is wasted writing. It all helps hone the story, even if it’s not included in the final draft. Creating a story is a journey, part of that journey is getting to know your characters. Even if you write scenes that will never see the light of day, it was an exercise that gave your characters dimension they may not have had before.
And you never know what you could end up using later. My favorite cut scene from Beyond Eden is now perfect for the prequel I’m working on—it was a good scene, it was just in the wrong story!