Monday, August 27, 2012

When is literary triage ever pretty?

Every author has them. Those deleted scenes that just didn't quite make the cut because it disrupted the flow of the story. Author, Raymond Frazee talks to us today about he dealt with the deleted scenes of his book. Take it away, Raymond.

I am a terrible writer.  No, really.

Today I’m suppose to tell you about deleted scenes, and show you one that I’ve removed from a story because—well, surprise, it didn’t fit, it ruined the flow, or, that old chestnut, it sucked hard.

These days I don’t often run into the problem of removing something because it doesn’t fit.  In the last couple of years I’ve learned to plot, to figure out where my story is going, and the route by which it will travel.  In other words, I’m a far better writer than I was twenty-five years before.

But, there was a time . . . a time when I’d put just about any crap on a page and thing, “Whoa, this is like the bestest evar!”

When I began writing my novel Transporting, I had the idea for the story, and the characters—but I didn’t actually know how the story was going to get from Point A to Point Z.  I’d taken one class in creative writing; I’d written a few things before getting into this novel; I’d joined a writer’s group.  I felt like a writer.

What did I know?

With that in mind I started out on Transporting.  I began work on what was going to be my “grand novel”.  In many ways it is, because if there is one piece that I’ve worked on for years, and learned how to plot, how to develop, and how to write, it’s that work.

Oh, and it also taught me how to edit.

I was about 150,000 words into the novel when I realized I had a tiger by the tail, and I needed to step back and think about what I was doing.  Little did I know that once I “stepped back,” it would be another five or six years before I returned to Transporting.  Real Life:  it is a pain in the butt.

Finally I reached a point where I was ready to start writing again.  I decided that I’d edit the story before I started putting down new chapters—

And I about crapped myself.

The first few chapters were good.  Not the greatest, but with a little polishing, they’d turn into something worth while.  But when I reached Part II of the novel—holy geez, what a mess.

Part II starts with a fight between my two main characters, and ends up with one of them running off with the intention of going on a binge of booze, drugs, and sex.  Which my character did—

Only he did it all wrong.

There where scenes where my main character met up with the person he was gonna spend the night with:  a gynoid (that’s a female-looking android for those who might have questions) who was very skilled in, shall we say, “multiple techniques”.  Someone who I had dressed up like Alice from Alice in Wonderland.  Someone who was this girlbot with a great deal of wisdom, so much so that she’d talk my main character out of slamming his aerocraft into a mountain at twice the speed of sound . . .

It was chapter after chapter of this crap, at least seven total.  And each chapter was about three to five thousand words each, so . . . yeah, about twenty to thirty-five thousand words of pure drivel.

I mean, we’re talking a whole novella here that was total garbage.  And needed to be cut in a hurry.

Those chapters were completely rewritten:  not just once, but twice.  Next year I’ll begin the edit on that book again, and I know I’ll clean up everything, but I won’t have to cut stuff, because I know I have it as I want it.

It’s just a matter of polishing things to look and read nicely.

As for the stuff I cut from Transporting?  None of it remains.  I dropped it like a bad habit.  I remember it all, but did I ever want to go back and read that trash?  No.  Not ever.  Never.

But those chapters taught me a lesson.  At that time in my life I was in love with an idea for the story, and I thought it’d be cute as hell.  I was wrong; it was not what the story needed.  It threw the story off, and showed the main character as not being as out of control and self destructive as I wanted to show.  If anything, it made him come of as something of a pretentious dick, which is not what I wanted readers to see.

The moral of the story?  Know where you’re going before you go there.  Just having that bit of foreknowledge kept me from having to rewrite huge tracks of the story later on.

Trust me.  Triage is never pretty.


  1. Great post Raymond!! You, are an excellent writer, really. We love your blog and stories! Triage is never pretty, but it is necessary!

  2. Great story ... I have a problem wanting to cut anything because when I write it of course it all sounds good. :)

  3. I agree with Aaron. I never want to cut anything, because it all sounds good. Unfortunately, what sounds good to me, is not good to others and wont sell. . . . . Yep, triage is never pretty.

  4. Excellent article! You make it entertaining . I can’t wait to learn much more from you. That is actually a terrific web site.