Writing: deleted scenes

As drafts come and go, scenes will be added and removed. Probably more so in the later drafts. Yet, some of them might return to the light of the world later. Today, I’ll share some thoughts about deleted scenes.

When I started writing, I’ve seen a mention that 10-15% of a story will be cut during later drafts. I thought that a madness, so much stuff to vanish? In the end, my cuts amounted to roughly 25%. While great deal of the reduced word count are small things like adverb removal, dialogue tag adjustments (removing where unecessary), and rewriting sentences, not-so-small part of these cuts were full-scale scenes or even sequences of scenes.

What to do with those? Just delete them once and forever? I don’t think so. How, then, can you use them?

A measure of progress

Save them somewhere and don’t edit them, ever. Maybe add a note when the scene faced the last edit. It might be a memento of what your skills were at that exact time. And when you are feeling down and thinking your skils haven’t improved at all for a while, go look at those scenes and see the difference.

I am speaking from experience: I still have the demo saved, a proof of how awful my first attempts were in every single aspect.

A source of inspiration

A scene that did not work well enough for your current story might still work some other day. A snippet of it – the setting, the atmosphere, or a bit of dialogue – might be a perfect fit in a sequel or another project. Or not a perfect fit but give you a nudge.

Of course, it might never happen. Then, it’s not like text files would take a lot of digital storage – in times when HDDs capacity is often 1TB or more, a few kB of storage space taken by an unutilised idea won’t likely be missed.

An additional lore

Yes, the chance for a writer to reach the stage when hundreds of fans will be hungry for additional bits of information about their favorite characters is low. Yet, I am of the sort who’d be happy for one such fan.

As it is with movies, some scenes are cut due to length constraints or due to being weak in some aspects (such as not being important enough) to make it to the final cut. Yet, they stay part of the story. Thus, you can put them up at your web as an additional content. You then have a choice – upload them as they are (and give warning they are un-edited and thus will suffer in quality) or do some basic editing for a higher quality.

A story behind a story

Some scenes might be deleted because they don’t fit the story – either at all, or due to some change made in later drafts. Yet, they can provide some background about the creative process.

You can upload those (tagging them as non-canon in the process) or you can make a list and/or overview of ‘cut content’ as a peek behind the scenes. I think the former would be a better fit for a static page, the latter as a blog post.


There might be more uses – but I haven’t come across them yet. I’ll welcome your insights. Writers: do you give deleted scenes a second chance in the ways I’ve mentioned – or a way I haven’t mentioned? Readers: do you like having a look at deleted scenes?

2 thoughts on “Writing: deleted scenes

  1. Pingback: Writing: analyzing beta feedback | Tomas, the wandering dreamer

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