A Writer’s Cutting Room Floor

scissors, laptop, editing, writing

The cutting room floor – where every actor or extra dreads having their scenes in a movie end up. Aziz Ansari’s character in the excellent Master Of None, for example, where he was really excited about being cast in the movie The Sickening and had invited all his family and friends to the premiere… only to realize his scenes had been entirely cut out. Left, as it were, on the cutting room floor.

I too have developed a cutting room floor of my own while editing my stories! It came about when I got nervous about cutting whole scenes out of my work-in-progress, or even just a sentence or a paragraph. I start getting paranoid and thinking, “Oh God, but what if I decide later on that this scene needs to go back in? How will I ever rewrite it as it once was again?” Or I start thinking about that sentence I cut two days ago and decide it was just the perfect arrangement of words to describe exactly what I meant to say. Only I can’t remember what that perfect arrangement is now. Now I will never get that perfect, perfect sentence back. It’s gone, doomed to deletion hell.

And usually that’s just my paranoia talking. Usually, when I cut a paragraph, I’ve cut it for a good reason and I’m never going to want it again. And that perfect sentence I was mourning? It probably wasn’t as perfect as I thought it was. It’s just my writer-hoarder sensibilities (or insensibilities, as it were) talking. I can’t throw it out, what if I found I needed it fifty years down the road, oh God, that’s it, my life ruined forever.

scissors, pencil, quote, writing, editing, truman capote, writer

So what I’ve come up with is a writer’s cutting room floor. That’s where I open up a Word Document that I label something like ‘Dribs and Drabs’ or ‘Cutting Room Floor’. When I want to delete a scene or a paragraph, I first copy and paste it into this document. So if on the off-chance I decide I really, really need that scene back, I can go to the Cutting Room Floor document and grab it. I don’t think I’ve ever yet had to do that, but at least now I can delete in peace, knowing the scene still lives on in the Cutting Room Floor.

Fellow writers, am I the only insanely weird writer-hoarder who does this? Or am I one of many, an army of writer-hoarders out there with their own Cutting Room Floor files? Let me know in the comments below!

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