Stephanie Burgis
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Playing with the Extras
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Last night we watched the DVD extras for "Pirates of the Caribbean", which included a bunch of deleted scenes. As usual, I thought they were all best deleted--I've almost never seen "deleted scenes" in any movie that I didn't think had been rightly cut. Sometimes, as in several from "Harry Poter & the Chamber of Secrets", they add a lot to character development, or to filling in the plot, and yet they still screw up the pacing, and turn fast, exciting, tense segments into slow, plodding, not-so-exciting bits. Sometimes, as in "Pirates" (or "An Ideal Husband"), they're jokes that--whether funny or not--just threw off the pacing of the movie. So I was sitting with Patrick and Nika on the couch, watching those deleted scenes and thinking, "God, why did I want to watch these? I'm not enjoying them, they're weakening the movie for me"--and, Woosh! A lightbulb flashed on above my head.

See, that requested rewrite of my story talked about two main things and a couple of minor points. The first main Issue was about character, and I'd pretty much figured that one out by yesterday afternoon. It'll still need some tweaking, but I can do that. Ditto for the couple of minor points. But the second Major Issue was about pacing in the last half of the story, and I've been completely blocked on that. I know it's off, but I haven't known how, or how to fix it, it's been driving me crazy....but watching those silly extras, the deleted scenes, made me understand something about pacing for possibly the first time.

I'd been looking through that whole last half, thinking, OK, it moves too slowly, OK, it should be more tense, but How could I possibly cut any of this???? It's all good stuff! It's all character! It's all--

Just like those deleted scenes. Some of them were really good. Some of them developed serious relationships that the audience never ended up seeing, in the final versions. But guess what? The final version was a better movie. And it's better to look at the book or the movie as a whole, and make sure that it's moving in the right way at the right time, than to be blinded by focusing too intensely on individual character interactions that don't directly affect the plot.

So. Maybe that's the kind of thing that everyone else somehow knew from birth, but that's my flash of insight story for this weekend.

And now I have to get back to work.

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