As horrific as those amputations are, creating scenes to fill holes, provide key details, and, occasionally, replace a cut scene is harder. There are several reasons for this:
- The new scene has to fit perfectly in between existing scenes (or at least do so little damage a complete rewrite of the manuscript won't be necessary).
- The new scene has to accomplish specific things, and the characters may be grumpy about cooperating.
- The new scene forces me to recapture the original mojo, and getting the mood, voice, and tension right is impossible. (All this, when I have been living in the judgmental editor space for days, weeks, or months.)
- Once written, the new scene reads like a first draft -- because it is.
- The new scene may be completely wrong -- and need to be cut.
Nothing turns this into a wonderful experience, but here are some hard-earned tips.
- Summarize the scene before and the scene after, so the context is clear without repeated rereadings.
- Make a specific list of what the scene must do to succeed. (Reveal information. Create an emotion. Set up a problem. Engage a character. Etc.)
- Commit to writing 3-5 versions of the missing scene. That way, there's no pressure to make it all work in one try.
- Write a version your character wants written so he/she will leave you alone.
- Put the missing scene, in its their versions, aside for a week before attempting revisions.
- Align the scene with the lead-in, follow-up summaries, not the actual manuscript scenes, which are polished and may be intimidating.
- Revise until you are happy. Choose the version that seems to be best, write down any likely rework elsewhere in the manuscript.
- Read the chosen, revised scene in contest with actual lead-in, follow-up scenes (or the whole manuscript. If it works, polish and congratulate yourself. If it doesn't, try out a different revised new scene.