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I don’t know why I like watching deleted scenes. Scenes are deleted from movies for a reason. Usually they’re not very good, but I still enjoy watching them.

Earlier this week I re-watched Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby and, of course, right after I finished the movie I put in the disc with all the special features and watched the deleted scenes. Surprisingly, these scenes were not bad—although I shouldn’t have been surprised because Baz Luhrumann is amazing.

After watching the deleted scenes I learned the original ending to The Great Gatsby was a little different. I don’t want to spoil anything, for those of you who haven’t seen this movie, so I won’t say how it was different. That’s not what this blog post is about anyways.

What fascinated me about these scenes was Baz’s Luhrmann’s commentary on them. Before each scene he shared why he deleted it. Some of these scenes he really liked, but ultimately, he decided that the original ending took away from what the story was really about, which was the relationship between Nick Carraway and Jay Gatsby.

This made me think about editing books. When I’m editing something, my goal is to make it the best it can be. When I remove a scene from a manuscript (or suggest that someone else delete a scene), it’s usually because it slows the pacing, or it doesn’t add anything to the story. But sometimes scenes need to be deleted because they add the wrong thing to a story. If Baz Luhrmann would have kept his original ending for Gatsby the movie wouldn’t have been better or worse, but the story would have been different.

So what about all of you—what do you look for when you’re editing? Plot? Story? Something else entirely? I’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts on this. And what did you all think about The Great Gatsby? Every time I tell someone I loved it, they always tell me they heard it wasn’t very good. For the record, I think it’s fabulous!

~Stephanie

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