Thursday, July 1, 2010

Share Your Darling or When to Delete

1. When to Delete

Yes, I'm going out of order because I want the blogfest to be at the bottom of the post and for some odd reason it decided to come first in the title. But I digress. There are times in the rewrite/edit processes where this situation will occur. The scene or chapter may be terrible but the harder time is when there is a scene or chapter is great but... it doesn't serve the story in another way aside from the prettiness (aka awesomeness for those that want a less femme terminology). When that situation occurs it's time to break out the metaphorical scissors and do some cutting. Get rid of the thing and then go lick the wounds in the writing body from the loss. Or something like that.

How does it start? First, it helps to have a finished draft (though for those of you that edit and rewrite along the way, that isn't necessary for you). But it's hard to cut something that isn't written. Just saying...

Then, either you or someone else notices that while the scene/chapter is good, it doesn't help the plot, is extra, and may need cut.

Writer's job is to decide whether to cut that scene/chapter or not. No matter how many crit partners and beta readers ask about the scene, in the end it's the writer who makes that decision. But don't just hit the delete. There are a few options.
a. don't add it in the new draft. This works for the writer that uses a new document or web page or whatever new to write the next draft of the novel.
b. cut and paste. Put the scene/chapter in a different document in case a later draft actually requires the scene to be added back into the novel because you never know. Or it can be expanded or edited as a short story/flash fiction piece.
c. keep it in for now. Sometimes it can wait for the next edit if it's that early on in the process.
d. if daring enough, highlight and press the delete button. Use this method carefully.

It's not an easy decision but it's one most writers will face at different points in their careers. Good luck when you have to make that decision. Now, onto the blogfest.

2. Share Your Darlings Blogfest
The host is Michelle Gregory at the blog, beautiful chaos so make sure to go to the blog and check out the other entries. There will be a good number of posts showcasing people's "darlings". Here are the "rules" posted by the host on the aforementioned blog:
"Pick a favorite scene that you deleted or used. Either one is ok. (We don't want to miss out on brilliant prose just because you decided to go against your crit partners' advice and use it instead of cutting it.)" There are more rules like sign up, post link to blog and a word count (which got changed but I hope not many people post over 600 words cause it's hard to read them with the blog layouts).

The Novel: Ephram's Defiance, now Tattle Tell
This is the rewritten version of the prologue that I then decided to kill it. I liked the idea of the prologue giving some explanation of the reason for the genetic mutation. The first version wasn't bad as it fit the tone of the first person pov of the novel and gave some but not a complete explanation. I may post the first draft prologue in a blog post about prologues, but no promises. By the second draft I had a better idea as to what caused the mutations to some degree. However, while I think the second draft is better, the prologue doesn't fit the tone of the novel at all and I think the book is better off starting with chapter one, despite breaking the "don't start with dialogue" rule. lol

And yes, the tense is very confusing. I think it switches between past and present for no apparent reason but I'm too lazy to edit this version for the blogfest.


It started with a cure.

The cure wasn't the exact beginning for there had been a slow, natural process of evolution thousands of years ago. Instead, it merely sparked an avalanche of genetic changes. First snowball dropped was cancer. Then the flu and HIV cures followed suit adding to the lifespan of humans by a few years but not many.

After years of hidden development, the first hints of change began to appear in public. Political distress and the overwhelming clouds of nuclear threats held societal attention away from the miracles that science had managed to pull off despite all odds. The changes were small at first and it wasn't until the first outbreak of bombings, that any showed a potential threat to security. Then came the fear.

Government responded to the people's concerns by hiring scientists to contour and control the changes that only a small portion of the population was experiencing. It took time but eventually they caught up with the changes and were able to control the mutants. Organizations were created for the use of the mutations, as well as, the control of those whose genetic makeup had drifted from the normal dna pool. The break through in national security, in the minds of the non-mutants, was the metallic bracelets that could suppress a person's mutation, keeping them from using it in any way. That was the only real restraint they managed to come up with so far, not that they aren't trying to find better ways. But now they had control.

That was to be the way of life for the next several years, our way of life. We never asked to be different, to have these abilities. We're born this way and no matter what happens, no one will take it away from us.


Michelle Gregory said...

first, thanks for the writing mechanics stuff at the beginning. good review for all of us. second, the "darling" pulled me into the story in that i now want to know what exactly is going on and how everything turns out. thanks for participating.

Raquel Byrnes said...

I liked your first line. "It started with the cure." Its a great hook because most movies and stories end with a cure...nice twist.

Great post.

Dawn Embers said...

Michelle - Thanks for the blogfest and opportunity to post. I might have a use for this prologue with a different book but we'll have to wait and see. I do like it.

Raquel - :-D Thanks. I do think it works for a first line, which is encouraging for sure.

Margo Berendsen said...

Very interesting premise. Goverment controlling potential mutations with a sort of bracelet. I assume it's not something they can just take on or off. I agree, that first line was powerful. I like the irony of a "cure" for one thing opening up new issues.

I really like the last paragraph where it becomes more personal - instead of just a historical recounting. Thanks for sharing!

Dawn Embers said...

Margo - You're actually not the first to question them being permanent. The bands(bracelets) can be removed for the younger population of mutants because their bodies are still growing but once that is done the permanent type would be used. But they aren't supposed to remove them.

L'Aussie said...

I'm a great fan of prologues (I know some who aren't) and I think this is a very intriguing one which would have the reader wanting to get into Ch 1. Well done..:)

Donna Hole said...

LOL: I would have to follow a pro-prologue post.

I'm not a fan of them at all. Not because the writing is bad - and I enjoyed this very much - but because I usually see them as info dump. I won't put a book down that has a prologue, and I always read them - I'm weird; I read everything in a novel from the author foreword, to dedications, to lexicons, and yes, prologues.

But it is rare I find info in the prologue that couldn't have been written into the later story.

Now this one has a lot of good backstory. It is a well written history to catch the reader up to where the action really starts. FOR ME, this excerpt is no exception. I could easily see this being integrated somewhere near the climax. Near the beginning of the middle to answer the protagonist's - and hense the reader's - curiosity of how this alternate world came about. Some scientist, bureaucrat or other person in authority could enlighten everyone with this "secret".

And honestly, if I read this on the back of the book; hell yeah, I'd pick it up. I usually think prologues make better back-of-the-book blurbs than what the publishers put there.

Just my take on prologues. The excerpt itself does draw me in to the story.


Dawn Embers said...

L'Aussie - :-) Why, thank you. I know some like prologues more than others.

Donna - Wow. I think you post the longest comments of anyone who has ever commented on either of my blogs. lol... But I agree with you on prologues and only keep them if I think they are absolutely necessary. Which is why this one is cut from the YA novel but kept aside in case I find a use for it later on. Glad you at least liked the excerpt.

Francine said...


Love it, love it - so when do the mutants begin to rebel?

I'm picturing a more active opening scene of conspiring rebellious stealth mutants, the above scene following as mini flashbacks in whispered verbal exchanges!

Just my interpretation of a great opening for a movie!

PS. word verification: gasmists :o)

Dawn Embers said...

F - Thanks. That is an interesting interpretation. Maybe later in the series there will be stuff like that. The one I first had this too didn't quite have that action, since it's about a boy who has to decide between telling the Suits and having a friend. But that is probably the coolest interpretation of the mutant series ever! lol

Sara Harricharan @ Fiction Fusion said...

I like the set-up, because it caught my attention at once, I wanted to know more about what would happen in the world.

Dawn Embers said...

Sara - thanks. I may use it for a different book or the facts somewhere inside the other books. We'll have to wait and see, but glad people like it.

Kristie Cook said...

Great premise, but I'm sure you've found a way to weave this into the actual story line. I think it would be interesting to start reading without knowing all this and learn it as we go. Adds some intrigue.

I had a prologue to Promise that ended up being cut early on. Now the entire book is like a prologue to the rest of the series. LOL

Sorry to be so late in commenting...just now getting a breather to read through these. Hope you had a great 4th!

Dawn Embers said...

Kristie - True, the first book in a series is kind of like a long prologue. I'm glad you commented at all, as any comments make me happy. :-D