Not everything makes the final draft in a story. In fact, the first draft can be completely different from the last. So what does get cut? Ever wonder what scenes weren’t right? Which characters, if any, weren’t good enough or needed?
In my debut novel The Other Side, I actually wrote it about four times until I was happy with it. One whole world got cut. Yep. I was brutal. A few scenes didn’t make it, but overall I rewrote, and rewrote it again and again.
What did I cut in The Other Side? World number Six. I made world Seven number Six and created a new Seventh because the original ending was terrible.
So here is what world Six looked like. I won’t post the whole world because I want to turn it into a stand alone short story at some point. I just hated cutting it because it was so much fun to write.
WARNING: If you haven’t read The Other Side then this won’t make much sense to you.
‘Sometimes surrender means giving up trying to understand and become comfortable with not knowing.’
Joe is falling in an endless sky after his (reluctant) escape from Paradis. Blue is all around. There’s no ground. Nothing but the air rushing past him. After falling for about an hour he finally comes to a stop- on a solid cloud. His soft and unexpected landing gains the attention of the locals. Tall. Thin. All dressed in white. Their eyes the only part showing. They speak so quietly he can barely understand what they’re saying. One thing becomes very clear. They are arresting him for noise pollution.
After a (comfy) night in jail, they take him to their leader, White One, who welcomes him and tells him their rules. Joe asks about the doors. White One shows it to him. Joe’s hopes of getting home are shattered when he finds the door is closed. No one can open it. They don’t know how. He is shown to a guest house. Resting can wait. He sorts through everything he knows about the doors so far. Maybe he can figure out how to open the door.
Nothing he does is right. He’s thrown in jail again. His third stint in four days. This time because he sneezed. He meets Duncan, an old Texan who practically lives in jail. They become friends and Joe promises to get him out if he can unlock the door but he worries Duncan will end up somewhere worse.
Joe talks with White One about the worlds he’s been to and the creature that seems intent on killing him. White One is worried that he’s brought danger with him and agrees to help Joe open the door. But before they begin working on the problem, they are attacked from above. A floating pirate ship hovers over the city. The crew splatter the city with brightly coloured paint shot from their cannons. The captain can’t stand their silent, plain white ways. This is bad news for Joe who needs to open the door but can’t because a bunch of colour-crazed cloud pirates abduct him, thinking that they are rescuing him.
The captain expects gratitude but Joe is furious. He demands they send him back. They can’t believe their ears. And of course refuse. He tries to warn them of the danger that’s coming but they don’t listen. The captain wants to know where the door is. Joe is wary and doesn’t tell him. So the captain locks him in his cabin and threatens to throw him overboard if he doesn’t tell him before they reach their destination (which the Captain won’t reveal). He can’t attack them or go back without their ship. He must get friendly and find out all he can about them and try to escape.
A storm hits them. A big one. He’s tossed about in the cabin. The crew are kept busy above. He takes his chance and sifts through the captains maps. He finds one that leads back to Cloud City. He grabs a sextant and makes his way out of the cabin and into a dinghy. But the storm is too powerful. He’s turned upside down. The canvas won’t hold. He comes slamming back down into the dinghy and hits his head. Lights out.
He’s dreaming of Millia when the Captain wakes him up. He’s not happy. Joe has had it. He snaps and tries to make the captain listen but before he can answer news comes about Cloud City. They’re under attack and not from the pirates. Joe directs his anger to the captain. The captain finally sees sense and orders the ship turned around. Joe only hopes they’re not too late.
Joe works on answering the questions he has about the doors, the mist and the worlds he’d been to. It’s a day and a half sail back and he needs to find out how to open the door by then. It’s not looking good. The captain says something about surrender and Joe thinks it might be the way to open the door.
By the time they return to the city, half of it has turned black and has disintegrated. The people are gathered in the center and they begin to haul them up onto the ship. Other ships they contacted begin to do the same. The door will soon be no more if they don’t hurry. They rescue the people but there is no time to open the door. With some help, Joe digs around it and ties a rope around it. Just as the rest of the city disintegrates, he gets it free and is now dangling on it below the ship. He tries to get it open but it won’t. The rope begins to disintegrate and he is soon falling away from the ship. He clings to the door and realises that he needs to stop trying and surrender to the fates like the captain said. Letting go of trying to get home or see Millia again. He surrenders his future and the door opens. He manages to go through.
WHY THIS WORLD GOT CUT
This world didn’t work for several reasons.
- It doesn’t fit with the other worlds. It’s too different and a bit ridiculous.
- There is no direct interaction with the antagonist. The mist shows up almost at the end.
- The way he opens the door doesn’t make sense. ‘Surrender’ is not consistent with his actions so far. It’s almost like giving up which he can’t do.
- It doesn’t lead up to the final climax and ending of the story well.
Don’t delete your cut scenes or chapters! They may be the basis for another story or even book. I have an ideas folder on my computer into which some of the cut scenes go for later. You never know where it might lead.
I hope you enjoyed reading about Cloud World. Keep an eye out in my books section. I hope to turn it into a stand alone short story soon.