I've learned a really important lesson this past week as I've been rushing to finish my first draft. Luckily, I didn't have to learn it the hard way - I learned it the awesome, amazing, fun way!
Like I've said, I've been working on this book for a decade. That's a long time. My writing has really (and, I do mean really) improved over that time period. So I have scenes from my book that I wrote yesterday, and scenes I wrote ten years ago. One of my characters used to be Julie, a young girl living with her parents in Idaho, who meets a boy named Todd at the beginning of the novel. Now, she's Kristen, living in an apartment in Chicago with her dad, dating a guy named Zach.
The funny thing is, it's still the same story. My characters have just grown and changed as much as I have.
So, the other day I was writing a scene, and I went back and found a similar scene from my original work. I didn't have much hope that it'd be salvageable, but it totally was! It's way better than what I was about to write. I kept saying things like, "I am so good!" At one point, I was almost singing, "I'm too sexy for my shirt!" LOL. You think I'm joking, but I'm not. I'm really that vain. It evens out the times I want to throw my whole novel on the dung heap, spit on it, and walk away.
Anyway, back to my story. I only had to twist and turn a few events, a line here and there, and sometimes only a word or two in places. And it's an awesome scene! I can't wait for my critique group to read it. :)
So, when you cut that chapter out of your novel, DON'T DELETE IT!! Put it in a file and save it for a rainy day.
I actually used a program called Page Four a couple years ago, and I took my entire novel out of Word Docs and put it into scenes in Page Four. So, instead of having a file called "Chapter 1" I have files in there named "Angela's Party" and "Out of Gas" I find it sooooooooo helpful!
Whether you use Page Four or Word or whatever, I'd highly suggest using this method, at least until you've written your whole first draft and you're just in the editing stages. It's just so much easier than wading through "Chapter Three" thinking, "I know I wrote that part about the blind date in here somewhere, but I don't know where it is!" Or, worse yet, opening your "Novel In Progress" file and having to scan through the whole thing to find what you're looking for.
Maybe it wouldn't be helpful for normal writers under normal writing circumstances, though. But for anyone who's on their fourth half-draft of a decade-old novel, do the Page Four thing. :D
And, just so you know, I've now written 2654 words in November. For being 1/4 of the way through a 50,000-word challenge, it doesn't seem like much, but I do feel like I've gotten a lot done in general, fixing up broken scenes like the one I mentioned above.