In a particularily candid move, John Scalzi, the author of Old Man’s War (REVIEW), The Ghost Brigades (REVIEW) and The Last Colony, pulled back the curtain a bit and is giving fans a look at some of the things that just weren’t good enough to make it into The Last Colony.
From the Subterranean Press web site:
This particular excised chapter comes from an iteration of The Last Colony that I didnâ€™t write (or more accurately, didnâ€™t complete): the second iteration, in which I had planned to write the books in alternating chapters of first person and third person, the first person chapters featuring John Perry, the hero of Old Manâ€™s War, and the third person chapter featuring other characters, particularly General Tarsem Gau, the leader of the Conclave. Eventually, I abandoned the idea for two reasons: it rapidly became clear it would be a structural nightmare, and also because if I wrote it this way, the book would end up in the 180,000 word range â€” i.e., Iâ€™d have written enough for two books, and would only be paid for one. Bad writer, no cookie.
And as it turns out, I mined it again for part of Zoeâ€™s Tale. Youâ€™ll have to wait to see which part and how, but the fact that I could (and did) goes to show that nothing has to be wasted. This excised chapter itself will never see the light of day as part of a larger story, but little bits and pieces can be moved around and used and recycled. Waste not, want not.
The lesson here for writing is that even your â€œfailuresâ€ â€” the stuff that doesnâ€™t work for your book, for whatever reason â€” can still have value to you as youâ€™re wrestling with your work. This is one reason way, whenever I chop out a significant chunk of text from a book Iâ€™m writing, I donâ€™t simply delete it: I cut it and paste it into an â€œexcisionsâ€ document that I keep handy. That way I can go back to that material for reference, or to drop a line or an idea into the final version, perhaps in a completely different context, but where it will do some real good. This is what I do, and itâ€™s worked for me so far.
The whole article can be found HERE.
Having just finished The Last Colony, it’s certainly interesting to get a peek at some of the process that goes into writing, and editing it. Look for a review of The Last Colony soon.