The stuff that didn’t work

I spent the morning writing a scene that had to be thrown out in the end. It wasn’t that the it was all bad, but ultimately I decided it just wasn’t how things needed to happen. It simply didn’t work. I had been debating the rationale for this scene for a couple of days and finally decided just to give it a go.

Throwing out work is generally something I try to avoid by careful forethought, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. Sometimes it is only in the process of writing a scene that you figure out if you’re on the right track or not. Writing that scene certainly settled my debate about it in a way that allows me to continue with confidence.

Nevertheless, it’s hard not to feel like I wasted a half a day of work. It’s always such a great feeling to finish a scene that is so clearly right on, and I guess it’s equally discouraging to throw out a scene that isn’t. Of course there is no real cure for such discouragement other than writing some stuff that does work.

There are all kinds of stories about writers having to throw out whole sections of a project either because they didn’t work or because they needed to be edited out for one reason or another. Such losses can be heartbreaking, but in the end, hopefully it’s a sacrifice for the greater good.