This month we Quills are discussing portions we’ve cut from our final works. (Goodness, but there are too many to mention!)
As the issue of cutting is directly related to editing broadly, I'm commenting on how removing text fits into that process in a general sense. (In the final edit of my first work, I cut roughly 80,000 words. Imagine that!)
Some cuts come easily. Unnecessary verbiage may be removed with a simple change from passive to active voice. In particular, I look for words like “was,” “were,” and “by,” for these changes. Also, phrases like “could feel,” become “felt.” Additional edits include “throw away” words like “really,” or “very” or “many,” or “small.” On occasion, of course, a replacement in such an instance might require more words. For example, when I see meaningless descriptive word like “small” (which tells the reader little), I might instead use a comparative. That is, “the small, old hut…” might become “the quaint hut, rotting around the door from years of weathering …”
Cutting words and phrases is relatively simple, but cutting whole portions can be painful. After spending long painstaking hours writing something, it’s hard to pull whole sections from a work. In Oathtaker, the original completed story included pages of a “history of the “world,” as it related to the people of interest. (While I could share portions of that here, for some reason I’m temporarily unable to access them on my computer.) Eventually, I cut that history because, even while some of my early test-readers appreciated the section, I felt it slowed the work down. (Sometimes I have to remind myself that today’s readers want writers to “cut to the chase,” unlike readers of ages past who seemed to enjoy the slower pace of a work, allowing them to lose themselves in the pages for a longer period.) The upside to this process comes when sections I’ve removed at one time, prove useful at a later time...
Have you ever engaged in a massive edit/cutting exercise? What sorts of things did you look for? Did you find it difficult to remove portions you’d spent good time writing? Do share!
In the meantime, let's see what my fellow Quills have to offer.
You're up, P.S. Broaddus! What have you got for us?
Today we're sharing chapters or sections of our longer novels that might have been cut from the final draft. For those who haven't read the full story, maybe this piques your interest - for those who have read the tale, here's how it started...
A Hero's Curse, Excerpt from Chapter 1, First Draft
(Kitty and Essie are following the ancient pipeline that brings water out of the Valley of Fire to their farm. Their job is to find and report leaks...)
Something thumped. It sounded like Kitty walked into a rock while making fun of birds and lizards. I laughed out loud. “My, are you blind too?” I felt a damp spot on the pipe. “Here's another one. It is not a bad one Kitty—just a joint.” I let go of the pipe and tapped the ground and the surrounding rock for a second. “Ok—I know where we are.”
“So do I,” said Kitty.
I smirked. “Nose still sore?”
Well, Robin? I'm anxious to know what cuts you've made.
Do you like to see deleted scenes that didn’t make it into the final version of your favorite books? You’re in luck. Up until I wrote Crow’s Nest, I … didn’t keep deleted scenes. I’m one of those people who like to clear the decks and get rid of rubbish (except, apparently, in my office, where I need it the most!), so once I had the Final Version, I threw away what I deemed was junk.
Only it’s… not?
I know, what?? An author friend freaked out and forced a course correction. I now have scenes…