When a scene isn’t working


What do you do when a scene isn’t working? Why you delete it of course. And start over. Not ready to delete it? Think you can salvage it? But ‘I’m so close’ to fixing it. Nope. Delete it. If you don’t it will drag you down.

But if you feel so inclined you can remove it from your manuscript and place in a folder just in case you might want to look at it later.

You might remember my woes about act two/ entering the middle of the novel as being hard because I had a big mess of shh–things that needed to be addressed and sorted. While this was my particular situation, a lot of writers are in this position when entering the middle. I knew several things going into this self-directed revision and one of them was too much info/unnecessary scenes that slowed down the action. How did I come to that conclusion you might ask? Well, I had 40,000 extra words and a lot of things happening that would make the novel longer. A lot of those things were not really doing anything. Now, I know there are long books out there, but I’m trying to find an agent in due time so cutting the necessary 40,000 words maybe more is a must. I didn’t know how to fix it, so I read up on how to revise and while I am still learning I thought I would share what has helped me.

Here we go.

Recognizing that you have certain types of issues is the first step though. You won’t be able to fix anything or do anything to make your story better if you’re not willing to admit that there is something wrong with it from the beginning and along the way. I believe there’s always a way to make the story better.

Okay, so now that you’ve recognized that there are issues that need to be addressed you must make a list of points you’d like to make, places you’d like to focus, characters you’d like to rework in the story in order to make the rewrite tighter. I am still working on this and hope to get a better understanding once I’m through this draft.

Here’s what happened in my case: I was able to identify that this one particular scene wasn’t working for the story because of the discovery I made while fleshing out the part before that moment. I know, it sucks I can’t give examples, but I promise I will go back and refer to this when this story is published. Just remind me in case I forget. 😉

By fleshing out a previous point in the story, the scene that I really, really thought I needed to go after it didn’t fit anymore–at least not at the capacity that I wanted it. So I removed it and any mention of it place it in my ‘deleted scenes’ folder. I went back and reread it this particular chapter for fluency and continuity. (That had been one of the issues that I spotted when I did a complete read-through of my manuscript). Rereading keeps things fresh and on your mind as you’re working through the kinks of what comes next. As a result that chapter is now finished!! Yay!

Was I attached to that scene? Yes. I really wanted to make it work. But getting rid of it was the best thing I did.

Tell me about your work in progress. What have been some approaches you’ve taken?


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