Recycling: Good for the Environment, Bad for Your Manuscript

Once upon a time (a year ago) I wrote a book that I ended up shelving. It just wasn't coming out like I'd hoped. But there were still some great scenes in there, scenes I didn't want to let go of.

So I was working on my new WIP last weekend and thought, "hey, wouldn't that scene from [shelved book] work GREAT here?" And at first it seemed to. I dropped it in, rewrote bits to tailor it to my current WIP. The easiest 2K words ever. Woo hoo, I was on a roll.

Except that's where the roll stopped. For some reason, I couldn't figure out where I wanted to take the story next. All the momentum I'd been building up until that point was completely squashed. I went to bed that night trying to convince myself the story was moving in a good direction, but by the time I woke up the next morning, I knew I was kidding myself. That scene stuck out like a sore thumb. The characters' motives and personalities didn't quite align. Even though both characters are 16-year-old girls, where they were at in their heads at the time was very, very different for each of them. And it showed.

It's hard, letting go. Letting go of a scene you love dearly because the book it is written into didn't succeed. It seems like such a waste. But all of those hundreds of pages nobody will ever lay eyes on? There's a reason for it. It's called perfecting your craft. And there's nothing wasteful about that.

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