How do you know if a scene needs to be trashed or not?
I’ve been asking myself this very question for the last two days and unfortunately, I don’t have an answer yet. Perhaps, a trip to Sees Candy for some much-needed chocolate or the local liquor store for some much-needed tequila would help. Course, with my luck, all that will do is make me fat or too drunk to edit, and even in a sugar or liquor induced state the fact will still remain that the choice to cut or not to cut is nothing more than an unanswered question-one plaguing me so bad, I’m about to have a permanent black and blue mark in my forehead from banging it into the desk so much.
Surely, over the course of the last two and a half years of editing I’ve deleted scenes. Heck, one round of editing I deleted nearly 20,000 words. I have since replaced half of them and am still sitting pretty at about 68,000 words (not bad for a first novel). Believe me, I’m not a stranger to sending scenes and conversations to the ole’ cutting board in the sky.
A few times the choice was hard and took awhile to be made; however, this particular scene seems different. On one side of the coin, it’s entertaining and dramatic. It adds a level of depth to the story, and to a few of the other characters besides the main ones by shining the light on them a little more than I already have. Certainly, I can argue that it could stay, but on the other side of the coin, there is a little voice in my head repeating the word “cut” over and over again. Is this an instinct? Or have I stepped into the world of over thinking yet again?
The scene seems a bit rushed at times, and yet, if I flushed it out, I know it would slow the pace of the book down. And, while the book casts light on other characters which is nice, one of the main characters seems to act in a manner which isn’t normal for him…or at least not completely normal. Surely, the situation of the scene can be the reason for his behavior, but I just don’t know if it’s enough.
With those few problems, I have even more. After being called out for having way too much dialogue in my novel, I notice those little ” and ” symbols like a tractor beam. And, looking down at 3 pages of 95% of dialogue verses 5% exposition, I’m kind of thinking there is still too much in this particular chapter. Perhaps if I cut some of it my views would change, but at the same time, something is telling my gut that it won’t and that I’m still going to wonder if I should keep it. The last problem I’m facing with this scene is while it adds the drama to keep the reader engaged, it could be argued that it doesn’t necessarily move the story forward…meaning it’s basically fluff and word count padding.
Certainly, my characters don’t HAVE to attend the party they attend in this scene. The only reason they do is for getting information to the reader through conversations and thoughts, information that I don’t think I could get across in another way, and yet at the same time, information that I don’t know if they really even need. With all the questions swirling around, I’ve been told by a beta reader to keep it because she liked it and she thinks it added to the story. I have to admit, there is a small part of me that agrees. I like it to. I’m just having a hard time figuring out whether I like it enough or not.