As I write this I am taking time out from editing and writing the ending to my very first novel. I know. Why am I blogging when I should be nailing everything down, locking the door and finishing what is naturally going to be the next great American novel? Glad I asked.
Because writing a novel requires patience, diligence, and hard thinking to make all the pieces come together and I'm at the end of the day at my day job. Writing a novel is telling a story and having it make sense, so brain power is required. I never realized any of that until I tried my hand at crafting a real piece of original fiction of my own. I'm blogging because I want to give my brain a break.
As a youth I thought that the big names in literature spat complete works out like it was no big deal. It was a gift they had and a gift they used to make themselves boatloads of money. Easy! I mean come on, Stephen King cranks out a book every six months or so, like he doesn't know what he's doing. Robert Ludlum never had to go back and re-write a scene because it just didn't work. That's hilarious. Hahah... ha... erm...
I had been a Stephen King fan from my youth, but I had no desire whatsoever to read any of his non-fiction work. I had heard his book, On Writing was an indispensable resource for many attempting to write, but then again I didn't write at the time, so... that book was irrelevant.
Fast forward a decade or so and I am neck deep in writing. It's something that for some reason I have found I enjoy doing. Once I made the decision to write I revisited the idea of reading On Writing. I found that Stephen King, the multi-million dollar empire, doesn't just crap out a book and put a cover around it. Nope. He has editors to clean up his work, he has doubts and uncertainty when he submits his work to the publisher. He doubts whether the book is really any good or whether it will be successful or not.
Are you kidding me? The man is legendary and he still goes through the same process as everyone else? No, rhetorical-question-asking me, I am not kidding you. Much of his work ends up in the hands of others. Others who recommend edits to leave on the cutting floor and make his work into what it is once it's printed into his enormous books.
So what does any of this have to do with your silly title, Douglas?
Once again, glad I asked myself that. The title, for those who didn't read it or have forgotten it because I rambled on about Stephen King for much too long, is "Do they have deleted scenes in books?"
I don't know if they do. I am actually asking that question as a question. It would make sense to me, me being a huge fan of movies, for there to be deleted scenes or even humorous outtakes within the literary world too. I say this from the perspective of a person who has been writing about the same characters for over two years, and has cut, added, and tinkered with those scenes and characters at will.
I wrote scenes that were fully realized but were cut due to pacing, difficulty, or for a dozen different reasons. Scenes that are perfectly good in their own right, but just not right for the work for whatever reason. Do any authors include those in an appendix? On a blog? Anywhere?
Also, I don't pretend to speak for other writers, but after a long period of writing about my characters doing serious things or going through traumatic experiences I have an urge to let them loose. Let them do things that are out of character or just give them dialogue that they would never ever say, just to . . . well . . . entertain myself.
Yep. Just to make myself laugh.
The character, after sustaining a serious abdominal injury, should limp over to the wagon so that her friends can pull her to safety. Which she does. Don't worry, she does. But for just a moment or two, I delete the limping part and scrawl, "She propelled herself on a cloud of flatulence over to the wagon, landing on the faded, red plastic with a soft, fragrant 'poot'."
It's stupid. It's patently stupid. I know this. I still do it because doing it causes me to convulse in laughter.
Is it some sort of blasphemy in the world of authorship to treat them like you would a group of actors? To allow them to make mistakes and say things other than what they would in universe of the book? I'm not pointing fingers or being silly (okay, maybe a little silly) when I ask these important questions. I am genuinely curious if such a thing exists.
Why can't I make the protagonist with a heart of gold just start punching things? Punching all of the things: people, vehicles, pets, trees, butterflies . . . bread. Why can't I have a secondary character who does nothing but hip-thrust everywhere he goes. He never walks, just provides locomotion by the sheer momentum of his hips rhythmically assaulting the surrounding air?
"You can!" says imaginary-person-I-am-using-as-a-stand-in-for you, "You're the writer, make them do whatever you want!"
But see it doesn't work that way. Unless I'm writing a quirky book filled with eccentric characters, those scenarios aren't going to happen in the worlds I've created. Those worlds have rules, they become real to the many people who love them, and they become real to me. Violating those rules or changing the characters at will isn't an option if I want them to be taken seriously.
Then again maybe I just answered my own question. Maybe the reason I haven't read about a blooper reel or deleted scene is because the characters and stories become something tangible and real. That readers trust the author as the de facto deity of the characters' world and violating that trust is something that just isn't done.
If that is the case, then I will just keep the scenes and bloopers to myself. Maybe compile a notebook of all the things my characters do, but you'll never ever see. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got to go pester Mr. King to see if he ever thought of making Pennywise dress up as Hello Kitty and pole dance.