Flynn's Crossing, Romance, Small Town, Belonging, Holidays, Holiday Traditions, Tree Spirits

The Outtake – A Valuable Writing Tool

When you write a series, the characters must stay integrated or related in some way. The plots have to make sense, flowing from book to book.  You have to stay true to your over-arching theme as well.  These all make a series what it is.

Sometimes, though, your characters have lives outside of your story line that you’d like to write about. Or whatever comes next doesn’t move the plot forward enough to warrant keeping it.  A scene you want to have happen doesn’t belong in what you’re writing.  Think of this as the writing version of cinematic stuff left on the cutting room floor.  You like the scene, but that vital fit to make it work is missing.

Welcome to an opportunity! Consider writing an outtake.  What classifies something as an outtake?  The characters are familiar to your audience.  They stay true to themselves in this little vignette.  Your readers learn something about them from whatever they experience in the piece.  And you get to exercise your writing chops by trying something different.

Flynn's Crossing, Romance, Small Town, Belonging, Holidays, Holiday Traditions, Tree Spirits

That’s what I did in Love and the Christmas Tree Nymph, a Christmas novella in my Flynn’s Crossing series. I had this picture in my mind of a scene about hiking through a tree farm and cutting down the centerpiece for the holidays, but it never fit into one of my story lines.  And I missed some of the characters whose stories were already out there.  Once they had their Happily Ever After (HEA), they were relegated to secondary roles in future works.  <<SIGH>>

An outtake was the perfect solution. I made the decision to write this at novella length, telling the story through the eyes of a single point of view (POV) character.  For Nymph, I chose Vince, the hero in the second book in the series, Flashes of Fire, and someone I miss hugely.  He tends to step in for guest roles in later books, usually as a humorous foil or voice of wisdom.  And since I usually write in deep third person POV, I decided to stretch on this and make it Vince’s first person POV – only he is speaking throughout.

Of course, a romance needs a little romance! I added in Vince’s continuing deep love for his wife DK.  But they’re already in their HEA, you say.  Yes they are, so I added a fairy tale for Vince to tell (since he is a writer, after all) and that contains the HEA.

All in all, it was a fun little project that didn’t take much time to put together. I wrote it off and on over three days.  I set it aside, let it percolate, spent a day on the cover, then edited for three more.  This was my first time uploading directly to Kindle, and that proved to be a breeze.  While I had the idea quite a while ago, the actual execution of the project took me under two weeks.

What’s coming up next? In my upcoming release later this month, Love’s Touch of Justice, Deke of Wine Into Water fame proposes to his Marguerite, on Valentine’s Day no less.  We see the before and hear about the after in Justice, but how did he do it?  He’s such a romantic at heart, but his ladylove doesn’t want to repeat old mistakes, so there are bound to be issues!  That’s on the schedule for a February 2015 release as another novella.

Consider this the next time you have a fun scene that calls for your regular characters but it doesn’t fit your plot. Write an outtake, and release it as a novella or short story.  It’s a fun way of keeping the buzz going about your series in between full-length releases!

“Love and the Christmas Tree Nymph” is available on Kindle here.  If you don’t own a Kindle, you can download a free Kindle reading app for various devices here.

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