Wednesday I rewrote a scene and realized that I’d made it both better and worse than it was before. Yesterday morning (having slept on it), I awoke with an epiphany about why. The scene is better because there was stuff that I hadn’t thought of before that needed to be mentioned, dealt with, accounted for, etc. The actual science they would be doing needed to be handled better and things I should have thought of before now needed to be incorporated into their agenda. Two things in the previous sentence should tell you everything about what’s wrong with the scene, why it was worse after the rewrite: “would be doing” and “agenda”. I wondered why the scene was so awful and dead when I’d added more science! Science is good, right? Well, yeah, if they are actually doing science. Adding things (good things, necessary things they must do, how they will do the science) made the scene apparent for what it really had been all along: a data dump. There are some small character development bits, but not nearly enough to justify the scene, and the information doesn’t justify the scene either. This book and these characters do not need this scene: I needed the scene because it laid out for me what they needed to do and how they needed to do it. This scene is very early in the book. Those paragraphs belong in notes or outline, not in the book. The important things can be dispersed into scenes in which they are actually doing the science and interacting with each other. Which beats the hell out of a scene with everyone standing around while the author dumps 2757 words on the reader. I had, in an earlier draft, flagged the end of the previous scene as a possible chapter break. It works perfectly. I cut the scene, saving it in a separate file. The science and character-oriented stuff will be incorporated into other scenes; the “trying desperately to inject life into a moribund scene” parts will die a well-deserved death. The result of cutting this big chunk of text will be more rewriting on later scenes, but it will make the book significantly and conspicuously better. So today there’s a kind of “this is great” rush going through me; I feel much better about the book.
PS: my author site is down right now. Techies have been alerted and the problem is being worked. Sorry for any inconvenience.