Keep Your Writing Scraps

The other day I had the pleasure of pulling from my “drawer” an old scrap of writing and inserted it into Merlin’s Shadow.

It was a dear scrap, this one, and contained an interaction with three fisherman named Ynktor, Henkter, and Crothak. They had originally appeared in my prologue of Merlin’s Blade, but the cutting machine left them high and dry without a boat, per se.

Well, they are back. And not only back, but the writing fits better here in the second book. Part of the discussion that occurs is about the Picts, which I have reconstructed to call the Prythager in the Celtic tongue.

Pictish Serpent Stone

This dialogue fits much better here, because a Pictish tribe will play a very important role in Merlin’s Shadow, and so the foreshadowing is much more powerful.

I’ll be researching the Picts in more detail in the upcoming months, so expect a post or two about these fascinating Scottish tribes.

Anyway, if you are a writer, always hold onto your scraps. Cut it out, but paste it into another document named “Saved For The Future.doc”, or something like that. You never know when it might come in handy!


PROGRESS REPORT:

I am now 15% finished with the first draft of Merlin’s Shadow, and am currently targeting 90,000 words. This gives me some imaginative room near the end.

Also, I have made the difficult decision to eliminate my original name for Merlin. He was known as Lynaeyus for the first half of Book 1, but this had two problems:

  • No one seems to be able to pronounce Lynaeyus
  • Everyone wondered when Merlin would appear, not knowing he was standing before them.

Now he will be known as Merlin from the very first page, and since everyone knows how to pronounce this name, I think it will work just fine.

Yes, I lose the symbolism of giving him a new name when he changes from being the blind some of a village blacksmith to become the adviser to Uther, High King of the Britons—but that is okay.

The moment to grab the reader is from the very beginning, and so it is important for them to know that this story really is about Merlin.

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5 thoughts on “Keep Your Writing Scraps

  • I’ve changed names of my characters several times. I think I’ve finally settled on some good, meaningful names that I can live with.

    As for keeping scraps of old drafts around, it’s always a good idea. I don’t see myself re-using characters and story lines that I cut out from my first draft, but you never know. I still have that old draft backed up on one of my machines, and a hard copy printed out somewhere. Boy was it awful.

    Looking forward to reading your posts about the Picts. You may already have this link bookmarked, but I thought it could help you in your research: http://www.mimas.ac.uk/~zzalsaw2/pictish.html

    It’s a link to the Pictish Chronicle online.

  • Steven,

    I’ve tried spelling Lynaeyus so many times to get people to pronounce it right, but it was just too hard.

    My goal was to help people throw out their prejudiced knowledge of who Merlin was, but it just wasn’t working.

    The interesting thing is that when I re-read my intro with Merlin inserted for the name, it actually raised the question right away as to who Merlin was, forcing the issue, and I think, grabbing attention.

    Now I see that it is better to deal with who Merlin is right away rather than to delay it.

    And many, many thanks for the link! Just what the doctor ordered. I was able to discern quite a few interesting tidbits once the fanciful stuff was thrown away. :DD

    Even the list of names is helpful, as it gives me some form of lexical grounding.

    The name “Pryth-ager” (which I’m using in my book) would be what the southern P-Celtic peoples called them, similar to the Q-Celtic “Cruith-ne” that begins the list of king’s names.

    -Robert

  • Not every scrap has that value, but now and then, you never know.

    The reason I cut it before wasn’t because I didn’t like the writing, but rather because it was in the prologue, and I since learned that you need to introduce as few “throw-away” characters as you can in the beginning.

    The goal is not to confuse the reader about their importance.

    Anyways, I had been sad to see these three characters go, so it was fun to bring them back.

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