Monday, November 30, 2009

Left-Overs

posted by Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy

Everyone knows what happens in the aftermath of Thanksgiving dinner -- LEFT-OVERS!

Some writers have left-overs too. You know, those scenes or partial scenes that get excised somewhere between the first draft and final version? Instead of merely hitting "delete" many writers keep those tidbits in a separate file. Like the out-takes section on a film DVD, writers post deleted material on their websites, blogs or newsletters.

In fact, when I started this post, I planned to include of few of my own "left-overs." But then I realized I don't have any! Oh don't get me wrong, I cut PLENTY of words in the course of my writing and re-writing. I even keep hunks of it around, but in the true spirit of left-overs, most of it gets used somewhere else in my story.

Unlike my too, too fleshy self, my writing tends to be spare and lean. During revisions I'm much more likely to add scenes rather than trim them. I gobble up all my left-over lines and phrases and find myself casting about for more. Scraps of conversations, bits and pieces of scenery, clothing, even gestures wind up getting thrown into the mix. For example, I recently asked my CP's hubby, who is an ex-cop and a gun collector, some questions about a particular brand of firearm. He was a wonderful fount of information and even owned an exact model of the weapon, which he showed me. He ended our discussion with this pearl of advice, "Don't point at anything you don't intend to kill."

OOOO! That terse little quote sounded exactly like something my hero (also an ex-cop) would say. So guess which words my hero eventually utters to the heroine at a particularly tense moment in the story?

But back to the subject of left-overs... In my case, I'm afraid life really does imitate art.

Personally, I love Thanksgiving left-overs. Turkey casserole, turkey sandwiches, turkey soup... YUM! Unfortunately, I seldom have anything to make any of these scrumptious treats because I don't cook Thanksgiving dinner. (GASP!) I know, I know BLASPHEMY! Well, um... not quite.

The fact that I no longer cook Thanksgiving dinner stems from a long ago UNFORTUNATE INCIDENT involving the ex. He was the DH then and decided to invite his family to our house for Thanksgiving. All very well and good, except I was alone in the kitchen slaving to put the big turkey dinner with all the trimmings on the table. He did drag out our wedding china and set the table. But while he'd been busy inviting eight people to dinner, he forgot to tell his boss, and fifteen minutes before the turkey was scheduled to come out of the oven, the phone rang -- YOU GUESSED IT! Off he ran to work and I didn't see him again for FIVE HOURS (something he did for almost every holiday we were married).

Once he finally returned home and all his relatives had departed, I very calmly said, "I am never cooking Thanksgiving dinner again."

And I haven't.

Oh, I've fixed side dishes for pot lucks, and bought the ingredients (like this year) for many a dinner. But I rather enjoy "embracing my masculine side" and sitting back while somebody else does the cooking and clean up. Sure, I miss out on a lot of left-overs, but on the whole, I'm much happier for it. Oh yeah, and the ex kept the wedding china, too! I really didn't mind because I've never had another occasion to use it.

What about you? If you are a writer, do you have left-overs from your stories? Do you do anything with them? And if you're not a writer, do you like left-overs, of the written or edible variety?

12 comments:

  1. Great post, Cindy! I was going to post about this a long time ago, but when I went to look for my cut-outs, I was like you, I use them often in other parts of a story. It's not that they're bad, they just need to go somewhere else in the story. Or changes I've made make them obsolete and sometimes I use them in another story. It's hard to cut all that neat stuff out of a story when you've worked so hard to create it, so I do save them on a "Cut-outs" page in the folder for that book. It doesn't hurt as much that way. LOL

    As to turkey leftovers? Hmmm, I cooked a turkey the weekend before Thanksgiving for my son's visit. He ate the 12 pound turkey over the weekend. He's skinny as a rail. Turkey is not fattening, btw. And then a second turkey for my daughter and her boyfriend on Thanksgiving day. The turkey is looking pretty bony now, but my son's back, moving his household goods to Pensacola for his navigator training there and he's going to devour the rest of the turkey in short order. :)

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  2. I lurvvvvvvve leftovers from Thanksgiving. I do cook every year and I'm not one to bag up a plate for others to take home. I figure with all the work, time and expense, I'm entitled to enjoy the fruits (and carbs) of my labor and not have to cook dinner for a few more nights (and, speaking of... guess what I'll be having for breakfast this morning! Yep, I luv me my leftovers!)

    As to writing - it kills me when I have to remove a scene or not use one - though they're mostly the beginnings of stories. I find I have to write more at the beginning than needs to go in the book. I've decided to post them on my website as the books are released. Right now there's the "pre-opening" of Wild Blue Under on my site on the book's page under Deleted Scenes. I've got an epilogue ready to go for Catch of a Lifetime when that releases in February, and 3 prologues that I put in my proposal for the genie series that won't make it into the final product. But I'll dole them out as the books come out.

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  3. I don't cut much from my books. After grossly overwriting my first book and learning a ton from that, I am super duper judicious about what goes in there in the first place. I have a little test for each scene--if it doesn't move character X or Y's story forward, it doesn't get written. That's the goal, anyway, and so far I have only been asked to add scenes, not cut any.

    As for T-giving dinner, I cook and don't usually mind even though I'm not what I'd consider a "natural" cook. I manage to pull it off every year. Somehow.

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  4. I put my writing leftovers at the end of the manuscript just waiting to be used. Sometimes they make the cut, and sometimes they don't.

    Good idea about posting them as deleted scenes. I may do that, but it would have to be on my blog. You know....the one with the warning page?

    I love cooking Thanksgiving dinner, but when you share a home with three men, you don't get much help in the kitchen. I do put them to work cleaning the house and setting the table, and in recent years, my oldest son has taken on the task of ripping the meat off the turkey so I can boil the bones for broth.

    Which brings me to my favorite part of Thanksgiving: TURKEY SOUP! I throw potato casserole, gravy, turkey, and dressing into the broth and it's the best thing you've ever tasted!

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  5. Cindy--I love leftovers, too! But with my Naval Academy brother home for the weekend, there aren't any left! There are of course, a lot of vegetables left over, and absolutely no dessert!

    Very itneresting about keeping your writing leftover, though. Love the analogy and I think it's interesting to know that some authors do that!!

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  6. I tend to write lean too, Cindy. I had a few scenes from my first Relics book, but that was about it. And I'm pretty lucky in that my Mom has always cooked the Turkey for Thanksgiving dinner, and the rest of the family brings everything else. It makes Thanksgiving more enjoyable when the work is shared.
    Great post!

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  7. Writing leftovers -- I've used leftover characters in different stories.

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  8. Cindy, you always bring a smile to my face!

    I am so with you about cooking Thanksgiving dinner. I'm pleased to say that with four sisters I don't have to cook that big meal! But I'm always the first one in the kitchen to help clean up and I have one sister who makes the biggest mess when she cooks!

    I've kept leftover scenes before but I find they are like left over food in the fridge. They just hang around and get older and older. I never seem to find a place to use them so I eventually have to throw them out--just like leftover food in the fridge. Fresh food is better and so are fresh scenes.

    Amelia

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  9. Turkey sandwiches, and I also cut up turkey and put it in cream of chicken soup to put on toast which is another favorite around here.


    I have posted some of my deleted scenes because I knew they wouldn't be used elsewhere and they were just too fun to completely delete.

    And the fans love it.

    Linda

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  10. "Embracing your masculine side" - Now THAT is a good way to justify being lazy! Ha! I have sworn off cooking dinner a number of times, especially when the kids were young and everything I slaved all day to serve was "yucky." Yet here I am, still doing it. At least now the children love all of it and my daughter helps cook. Now we tend to gobble it up with barely enough left-overs for one meal on another day.

    As far as writing: I have few left-overs. I am a slower writer than some, I think, but I rarely write something that does not fit just right. It may get slightly edited (thanks Deb!) or reworked a time or two, but rarely have I excised whole parts. But it is a great idea to keep a separate file of the left-overs. I will remember that if it ever happens.

    Hope everyone had a fabulosa Thanksgiving!

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  11. It's surprisingly comforting to read of a writer who adds words in the second draft. Third draft I might cut some...

    And leftovers are so much more fun when everyone eats different food in the first place - vegetarian, gluten-free, definitely not vegetarian, definitely not gluten free. I've finally learned to cook smaller portions so everyone gets what they want, and the leftovers were gone by Sunday lunch!

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  12. Evening Everyone!

    Thanx bunches for dropping by to comment. I had workmen at my house ALL DAY, installing a new furnace. :-(

    Nice to hear all the left-overs stories! If I ever have enough, I'll definitely post them, probably on my blog.

    AC

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