Cut Doesn’t Mean Thrown Away

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Writers may have run across the phrase that you need to “kill your darlings”. A sentence, scene, storyline, or character unnecessary to the plot needs to be removed for the sake of the overall story.

For reference, this means to be objective when you edit. Make sure that everything in the final story needs to be there.

It doesn’t mean to get rid of things just to make the story shorter, to fit some arbitrary word count, because it’s your favourite, or anything like that.

It also doesn’t mean you just throw it away. Maybe it’s the germ of some other story. Maybe it can be fleshed out a bit and become ancillary material for a longer work.

I’ve had the first of those happen a few times when I pull a scene or even a piece of one that doesn’t drive the story forward, usually ending up in a very different story that isn’t quite recognizable as the chunk I started with.

The second, I’m starting to find more interesting. Do you have a favourite novel or series that you wish a bit more attention was paid to a particular character? There might be something that was removed because it blew the pacing of the story proper or could have sent it in a weird direction, but it may still exist. The author may want to make it available.

When I was drafting the fourth book in the Troll World set, still titled Palace even though the vast majority of the book doesn’t take place there, the main characters go on a long underground journey. They’re members of several different species and I had the idea that around the fire that preceded sleep, after everyone had eaten, they might take it in turn to tell stories to pass some time. I wrote three of those, made notes for a fourth, and put in a log line for two more.

And they derailed the action of the book every time. I pulled 8,000 words out of the first draft (and notice I only actually wrote half of the campfire stories). But I didn’t just delete them. They still exist but have entered the realm of Bonus Material. If (when) someday I release the whole set as an omnibus, that will be a nice add on.

The point is, don’t throw it away. Text doesn’t take a lot of storage space on your computer. You’re not a pack rat for keeping it. Unless you want to be.

And you never know. You might need it.

Be well, everyone.

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