The Importance of Keeping Scraps

So, I’ve been working on Burning Eden since I wrote the first draft of it in NaNoWriMo 2007. It was 50,000 words long and was missing the entire current middle section. I rewrote it at some point in 2008 and extended it to about 85-90k. Several people have read that version and most of them find my MC fairly unlikeable, most of the other characters not nearly fleshed out enough, even though they like the idea. So it occurred to me a while ago to switch it from third to first. Unfortunately, I’m not very familiar with writing things in first person, but I figured that I’d give it a go. As that particular scrap of work indicates, it didn’t even hit the 10k mark before being abandoned (that said, it’s more likely because I got bored of it and excited about something new; I can be a bit flighty at times).

Fast-forward to now-ish. Yes, some of my projects go a very long period of being ignored.  I decided that of all of my projects, this and one other are the most feasible first-novel projects. (the other being the 50k fantasy piece I wrote this past November). I’ve had both documents open on my computer for quite a while, and neither of them have been progressing very well. I attribute this to the lethargy of being unemployed, and it’s really a habit I’m trying to break myself of.

So I’ve finally settled on working on Burning Eden. The single major problem that I’ve wrestled with since its conception is that something really interesting happens to the MC when he’s five, and then nothing of any real note happens until he’s 16 or so. I already had a prologue (that I wasn’t willing to drop, still am not), so I couldn’t shift the first event forwards to a prologue.

In this most current rewrite, I’d just minimized the (really pretty important) event to a couple of paragraphs and started the story when the MC was 16. But it bothered me to no end, and today when I was in the shower, I made the executive decision to go back to the scrap of first person that I’d written at least a year ago and see if I could copy-paste some of that into the current version, as I decided that the first bit really was important and didn’t want to have to rewrite it if I had a salvageable piece already tucked away somewhere.

Lo and behold, not only is it perfectly viable as first-draft material, but I didn’t remember that I’d found a semi-decent way of working around the decade-long gap in the story. So I’ve learned my lesson today: no matter how silly or going-nowhere a piece of draft is, it makes more sense to keep it hidden away somewhere rather than deleting it. You never know how useful it might be in the future.

(In other, totally unrelated news, I might be getting a job soon – final interview on March 20!)

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1 Comment

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One response to “The Importance of Keeping Scraps

  1. I like the moral of this story.

    Much luck with the job interview!

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