Writers: what's the hardest thing you've had to leave on the cutting room floor?

Maybe it was a scene, maybe it was a character, maybe it was a whole book. We’ve all had to make gut wrenching decisions to cut things from our work.

So what’s the most painful thing you’ve ever cut? Why’d you do it? How’d it turn out?

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My entire first WIP The Realm of Steel. I loved writing it, but the errors were everywhere and scope creep was quickly becoming an issue. But it taught me a lot for my new WIP, so… 5 steps backwards, but heading in the right direction now :sweat_smile:

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Characters.

I was thinking about a spin off book from the first book and I was trying to think up a female RO but my brain couldn’t compute. I couldn’t even think of a name for her. I wanted to make her unique and ultimately an individual. So I tried thinking up a personality that wasn’t cliche and I couldn’t think of anything.

Eventually I resigned myself to this spin off not including this character which was upsetting cause I wanted there to be two female ROs, but now there’s just one. Even though I hadn’t written a single word for the actual story, I felt like I was letting my future readers down for some reason.

I think it’s for the better that she’s temporarily cut from the story. I don’t like shoe horning characters, scenes, or messages into the story. Her ultimate goal was to be an RO which I felt would be a disservice to her as a character.


Otherwise I have ‘cut’ a couple of IF WiPs. Two of which I made a thread for but later took down the demo since they were too ambitious for my coding skills at the time. A couple others that never made it off the ground for similar reasons as well.

Not an IF, but I tore apart an entire novel draft I had written 6 months prior to revising it. I had written 60,000 words and the final version was a mere 5,000 after I tore it to shreds.

After the 6 month break, I had realized it was nothing but me frivolously writing colorful descriptions but going nowhere with actual plot.

The main protagonist was too accepting of her sudden life changing situation and I realized I just wanted to rush to the juicy bits (bantering) before I had even developed the foundation.


I never really throw anything away. I’m a pack rat when it comes to writing because maybe I want to use this character or that scene in something I write in the future.

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Hm…

In the last story I wrote, I cut the characters’ backgrounds. Meaning, there were 3 characters with a deep background where I could’ve expanded in the form of Flashback and such and I decided I’m not including that in the main story. Why? Because it was a lot for starters, and 2nd I didn’t wanna dig myself into a rabbit hole and make the story about ‘them’ and get stuck somehow. Maybe one day I’ll make it a stand-alone side project and expand on their past, but for now, it never made it in the main story. Leaving those characters past pretty vague which worked just fine as far as I was told. Make peoples guess…which is fun.

The other thing I cut was in my 3rd story. They were mostly ideas and theories switching points of view here and there. I didn’t want them to go to waste, so I added them at the end of the story as ‘Cut Content’. I didn’t have enough inspiration to make the side project, so just added them there. Worked fine.

Still in the 3rd story which spawned 4 volumes which took forever to do. I did something I never thought I would do. I had to create 2 ending to the story. For personal reasons that are private, suffice to say I decided that instead of deleting the original ending, I just let them play side by side. Making sure the HAPPY ending comes first then the Original ending.

I think cutting characters or scenes or ending is fine. Everything change eventually, what you are writing, the story, and your vision. What I do find sad, is how peoples just discard the cut content aside as if it is worthless when it still has the potential to become something else, and all it takes is a bit of effort from us. Maybe not right away, but down the line? Maybe.

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Well… the hardest things I’ve had to leave in my editing room document is… most of my prologue has it was full of to many spoilers for my main antagonist and a chunk of chapter 3 because it wasn’t going to work with the flow of the rest of the chapter.

I’m probably going to find some more things that fit the criteria then those has I keep writing my work!

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I’ve got plenty of unfinished projects, some of which I’d like to revisit some time or another. I think as far as my current WIP goes, it’s a funny situation where the original scene that I came up with that kicked off my desire to write it has now wound up cut from it, because the story shifted in a way that made that scene no longer viable narratively. It’s still something that feels “true” to the story and informs how and why I’m writing the story, but I don’t think it will actually be IN the story anymore.

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My first idea for an opening scene involved my character falling out a window and getting smashed to bits against a linoleum floor. I really had a vivid image in my mind of that happening.

I wrote the scene and I really, really like it, but I cannot think of a feasible reason why they would have been thrown out that window while still being far enough away to be able to escape from their captor. These two things don’t click. So I think I need to trash it.

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I wrote over 20,000 total words as an intro for my planned WIP. It was going to be awesome, and I still am going to make it happen one way or another in the future. But for now, I had a moment where I read over it and realized that it just A) wasn’t good writing and B) I wanted to go another direction for the introduction. Just like that, for no reason other than me holding myself to a higher standard and changing my mind, 20,000 words were gone.

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One whole book, cover and all. Once I started to send it around to agents I realised that the entire first quarter didn’t work, and I would have to do a massive revision/rewrite. At the time I was starting to get into Fallrn Hero so I shelved it. Maybe I will return to it in a decade or so. FH was such a cut story after all, maybe it just needs marinating…

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Just… fun well written scenes and character moments which no longer quite fit with a story. Like… I get it. They don’t work. They’re slowing things down. They need to go. But… still… ouch.

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Fleeing from the captor and then slipping on the floor (and them tumbling out the window) would do it. Or intentional self-defenestration.

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nothing to do with CoG, but was planning to write a little (big) story about my OCs, but kept redoing the lore and setting, so I’ll be putting it aside lol

and fleshing out characters is hard- i can get the looks, personality, etc. but usually never the background lore :expressionless:

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I create personalities for a living (for chatbots), so I’ll give you a couple of tips, if you like.

  1. Write down the year of the character’s birth. I know, it seems obvious, but write it down anyway. What is month/day of the birth? What season is that? Does their astrological sign affect their personality? How have birthday celebrations (or lack thereof) affected their life? Where were they born? Was it rural/urban?

  2. Where did they go to school? What kind of school was it? Did they graduate? What were their experiences in school? How long ago was it that they were in school?

  3. Does the character have any brothers/sisters/siblings? Did they grow up with them? What is the character’s birth rank (i.e. only child, middle kid, etc)? Who raised the character (i.e mother/father/other/custodian)?

  4. Has the character ever had a job (official or not, i.e. babysitting counts as a job)? Do they have a job now? How did they get that job? What do they think of their job?

  5. Lastly, take a free online Myers-Briggs personality test, making each choice, as best as you are able, as though you were the character.

You’ll get a four-letter acronym like this: INTJ

You can then search for famous people who are INTJ as well as detailed personality descriptions of “regular” people with INTJ.

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Note: It may seem like the above will take a long time, but it won’t. And even if the character is “minor,” you’ll always know EXACTLY who they are, where they’re coming from, their perspective on the current situation, and how they are likely to speak and respond.

Good luck!

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This is beautifully detailed for someone who was lost at it aka me, thank you.

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I don’t think I’ve ever cut something that was excessively painful to cut. Usually there’s always a good reason, either it’s just not working for the story, or it’s not working for me, so it needs to go or be changed.

In Eternal, I was going to have more stuff with the dero, but it just didn’t work out like that for the story.

There were a few things in Necromancer I genuinely just forgot to put in! I was going to have a scene with raising a dead dragon, there was another comical bit involving butterflies that kept popping up despite death being all around. Necromancer in general was supposed to have a more humorous path involving bringing back your girlfriend, but that got cut when I realized the story was going to be a more epic tale with a more serious tone.

Conversely, Love SICK was going to be completely brutal and unrelentingly grim in tone, but then I decided that wasn’t as much fun to write, so I went for a more over the top humorous tone instead.

In all case, the stories still turned out the way I wanted them to despite changes and cuts.

Though I don’t completely throw out ideas, so they usually find their way back in some other form. For example, right now, I just finished a story which incorporated more stuff about the dero, and I’m working on another one with the butterfly concept. It works for those stories, even if there wasn’t any room for them in the others.

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I’ve sometimes found it helpful to let the story tell you about your characters as you are writing it. Like, you get to a specific situation and realize, “You know, if Character A had experience with something like this in their past it could fit in really well here.”

Also, I just tried a new-to-me technique for helping me develop the characters I’m working on called The Gameshow Introduction followed by the The Interview Process, or something like that.

Basically, you write out a one sentence introduction for your character as if they were just walking onto the set of a gameshow. Then, you “sit down” with your character as you would in an interview and ask them questions about themselves, starting with what was said about them in the gameshow segment.

Have your character answer the questions in their voice, or the way you think they would respond. Keep asking questions based on their answers and let your characters talk about whatever they want, even if they end up talking about a McDonald’s Big Mac when they are from a medieval fantasy universe. Play around with the questions and have fun. You don’t have to know the answers to all of the questions, either. You can use them to come up with something later. Then, you can expand on those interview questions by writing out a more well-formed short synopsis of them.

I didn’t think this would work very well for me, but I ended up figuring out stuff for my plot that I don’t think I would have figured out otherwise, or would have taken me a lot longer to figure out. I’ll be using it to delve deeper into my characters’ pasts soon, as well.


I can give you an example with one of my characters:

Gameshow Intro: Victory is a hunky/sexy nerd who finds paradise in the pages of a thick book, and is second in command of the Ferry that transports the dead to await judgement!

Interview:

Do the ladies/gents find you attractive? I would not care. My eyes are for my spouse, my duty, and my books.

Why do you choose to present yourself the way you do? I am proud of my heritage and like to be seen as distinguished and intelligent.

Why do you choose to wear glasses? Glasses are sexy. I used to use them to read with. They are like old friends that I do not wish to part with.

What kind of a nerd are you? I find these kinds of labels unnecessary and unproductive. I love what I love, is that not enough?

Describe your perfect paradise. A plain of existence where everyone who wanted to learn and discover the secrets of the universe could come together and study; in eternal safety and peace.

Who is your favorite author? Proust?

What is your favorite book? Some classic literature about love

What duties does the 2nd in command have? I am responsible for all deck operations and for applying procedures and regulations to both the equipment and the crew. I report directly to the Captain and the Quartermaster reports directly to me. I am also responsible for a Watch.

What is there to watch for? Psykia, for one. And, other dangers that make our job more difficult.

Being dead, how do you get ahold of books to read? There are places where a plenitude of book gather. You may have heard of them. They are called libraries.

Can you physically interact with them? Of course. Although, that is not always necessary.

How did you get the job? I took the job as atonement for past actions.

What did you do? I am not at liberty to say.

What does the Ferry look like? What you wish it to.

How is one ferry able to transport everyone who dies at any given time? We don’t transport everyone, just the souls that were not able to make it to The City on their own. We mainly transport wandering and lost souls and the recently departed who do not know they are dead yet. Their safety is our highest priority.

What do you have to keep them safe from? Skithis, mainly, and other Psykia who try to stowaway.

Who are the Psykia? They are souls who never made it to The City, or were banned from it, therefore, they have never had a chance to be judged and continue onward with their soul’s journey.

How did they get banned? They likely tried to harm others or refused to follow simple rules enough times.

And they are dangerous? Some are benign–like the Syndosyn–while others are malignant–like the Syndakia. The Skithis are the most dangerous as they are souls who are so profoundly lost they only exist to obliterate other souls, causing them to cease existing entirely.

What kind of judgement? Whatever judgement is deemed worthy as consequences of their actions on Earth.

Who does the judging? The Judges.

Who are The Judges? The ones who do the judging.

But who are they? Other deceased who took on a duty.

Wouldn’t that make them fallible? Of course, that is why they are not the Final Judgement. They do have rules and regulations to follow, as do we.

Rules and regulations? It helps keep fairness and order. Otherwise, everything would devolve into chaos.

Who determines what is fair? Those in control.

Who are they? I do not know. I have never met them.

Could it be God? Or gods. No one knows. If there is a god, they do not make their presence known at such entry levels of passing.

Do you find their rules fair? They keep us from devolving into Skithis, so I would say their rules are working as intended.

Is Judgement a punishment? No. It is a neutral decision to determine which path your soul continues on.

Do you have any say in it? Yes, that is why I took on a Duty of Atonement.


Victory knows they are attractive but doesn’t doesn’t seek validation from sources they aren’t close to. They like presenting themselves in a distinguished and intelligent manner and is proud of their Mexican heritage. They wear glasses to finish off their look. They feel labels like ‘nerd’ and ‘geek’ are beneath their dignity and pay them no attention.

Literature, poetry and anything to do with words and language are Victory’s bread and butter. They want to work toward a future where every being who wants to learn can come together to discover the secrets of the universe forever in peace.

They are the Chief Mate on board the Ferry, thus, second in command. Their duties include being responsible for all deck operations and applying procedures and regulations to both the equipment and the crew. Victory is also responsible for a Watch. The main purpose of the Ferry is to transport lost souls to the Underworld where they await judgement for the life they just lived.


Anyway, I hope this helps…and we’ll see how much, if any of it, gets cut later on down the line. :smile:

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I enjoyed reading this! Do you also add body language or gestures whenever you do such interviews, to see how they would react to stuff they aren’t comfortable with?

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The sass :joy: I love it

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