Friday, January 18, 2008

Deleted Scenes

Do you ever write a scene you KNOW you're going to end up deleting for the final draft?

I did last night. Due to a bunch of circumstances I won't get into because it would reveal spoilers for the fourth book, Garnet and Sebastian end up talking about where Sebastian was during World War II. Sebastian, remember, is Austrian. As someone else in the scene points out, so was Hitler.

After a great deal of consideration about this, I decided that history is a complicated thing when you're living through it. There are, for instance, atrocities going on today that I know about. Things that history may judge to be as evil as things that went on during the Third Reich. Yet, there's only so much a human being can do, and, you don't REALLY know the extent of all that stuff until it's over and you have perspective. So, I decided that, though he wasn't expressly a NAZI, Sebastian had fought on what we would now consider "the wrong side" during WWII.

Lots of people did, after all.

And, my sketchy college courses on WWII taught me that Hitler was very attractive during the time he was alive. He was charismatic, and his policies improved Germany's crumbling economy. He also inspired a great deal of nationalistic pride. Things that are hard to resist. When the economy is good, a lot of the rest of the evils in the world, no matter how truly horrific, are easier to ignore. It's true that most of us don't give a damn until our own lives are personally affected.

I wrote a scene in which Sebastian talks about hindsight, and wishing he could change the choices he made in the past with the information gained over time. I think it's a great scene, but I don't think it'll survive the draft process.


Well, for one, I think my readers, perhaps rightly so, would rebel against the idea of a ROMANTIC hero who fought in Hitler's army, regardless of his current level of regret or the fact he never joined the NAZI party. (The scene, as written, actually has Garnet react similarly. She spends the night on the couch after Sebastian confesses this trying to deal with the loadedness of his revelation.) I think, if I left it, my editor would ask me to change or get rid of it, with the marketability of the book in mind.

Secondly, even though I think the scene is great for understanding and deepening Sebastian's character, it's not 100% necessary for the advancement of the plot.

It'll probably end up in the file I keep with all the scenes that don't make the final cut. So why not cut it now, or not write it at all? Well, that's the question isn't it? I guess for me, writing scenes like this one are part of my creative process. I need to write through it in order to get to the next moment. As I was telling Sean the other night, one of the reasons I rarely feel like I have a lot of ideas to spare (writers like to talk about having more story ideas than they have time to write, but I never have felt that way), is because I make stuff up on the fly every night. I have an outline for my Garnet Lacey books, but they don't go on a page by page level, so a lot of the interactions are, in point of fact, spontaneous. And they change the nature/feel of the novel as I write them.