Editing and Trunks

Lately a fellow blog writer/aspiring novelist and I have been talking on our blogs about the editing process. Today she posted a really interesting post about her trepidation in deciding “to cut or not to cut” material she had written from her novel.  Having recently done some serious sheering I felt like I would weigh in, and as I answered, I made a pretty fun observation. Sometimes what you cut, may have had a purpose for you as a writer, but is not something meant for the reader. I then compared these types of cuts/edits to “Trunk songs.” In Musical Theatre, some songs are written for the show, but they they don’t make the final cut. These songs are often referred to as “trunk songs” because they are theoretically put into a trunk, never to see the light of day, unless they are going to be reworked into a different musical. In an interview that the American Theatre Wing did with Alice Ripley in their weekly interview series “Downstage Center” Alice Ripley talked about important those songs were to her. She said that in the workshop phase, she learned a lot about her character from those songs, and that informed her performance of the show.

In editing, I find this idea helps me cut with ease. I would wager a good 20% or more of what I’ve written is material for a trunk. They helped me find my characters, but the findings from it are better expressed elsewhere in the book. So they need to be cut. I hope that by articulating this idea here, I will be better/faster at editing.

I’ve now been able to return to chapter 5, having finished reworking chapter 1 today.



  1. Rachael said,

    February 22, 2012 at 6:36 pm

    I loved the comparison with trunk songs…It is so nice to know that we are both going through this together.

    • kyoske said,

      February 22, 2012 at 7:20 pm

      It really is. Yeah, it is something I’ve been thinking of lately, but your post actually made me put it down into words.

  2. James said,

    February 22, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    I like that idea! Thank you for sharing!

    • kyoske said,

      February 22, 2012 at 7:20 pm

      Thanks for reading!

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