I’ve mentioned the Deleted Scene file a few times, but what is it? There is a general rule in writing: NEVER ERASE ANYTHING YOU WROTE! Okay, so yes, this can be broken every now and then, but this rule is mainly focused on paragraphs or scenes you’ve written—or maybe a really cool line. You don’t want to lose it because you did after all put all that time and thought and energy into it to write it, so what do you do?
- Create New File
- Name File: Deleted Scenes
- Create New Document
- Name Document: Deleted Scenes from _____________ (whatever your current story may be)
- Select the section set for deletion in your story
- Paste into the Deleted Scene document
- Leave it
No need for explanation. No need for formal markings to remind you where that part came from in the story—unless you want to remember those details.
So what do you put in such a file? The writing contained in it is not necessarily bad writing. It’s simply writing that doesn’t quite fit the story. Sure, you might be writing exactly what you planned for that scene, but something just feels awkward. The characters aren’t necessarily picking a fight with you or protesting at all, but they’re inching along hesitantly. It’s like they know something’s wrong, but they can’t quite put their finger on it. They do what they’re supposed to be doing, but they’re hoping you will catch on, halt the process, retrace the steps, and take the story a different direction.
Why even have a deleted scene file? How is it different from all the countless of drafts of your novel? This comes in handy mainly when you’re writing the first draft. The story isn’t unfolding the way you were hoping. You can’t keep this material in the same document because it’s taking the story the wrong direction, but you don’t want to lose what you’ve written because it was good writing. This is when you select all the troublesome material and put it in the deleted scene file. Once it’s moved over there, you can delete it from your original manuscript and resume the course you want to take without feeling terrible for erasing all those words.
Will you ever look back at everything in that file? Probably not. However, it becomes a gold mine for story ideas and times when you find yourself writing a similar scene, and you think to yourself, “I know I wrote this before.” You can find it in that file, adjust it to your story, and save yourself the time of having to rewrite the entire scene from scratch.
You might not call it ‘Deleted Scene File’ but rather something else, and that’s all right. This is basically a catch-all file for orphaned scenes or displaced paragraphs/sentences. Is it a requirement? No, but it is an alternative to absolutely erasing anything you’ve written.