Letting go of your “Little Darlings”. Great Scenes You’ve edited OUT of your novel

A “Little Darling” is a scene that you just LOVE in your novel, but somewhere along the line, you realize it is just not right… and you need to cut it.

I have TONS of them.  Most of them chapter length.  But here is one of my favorites… just 103 words from HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT.  This is my Main character, thirteen year old Magellan, having a conversation with the Great Goddess.  She basically tells him he needs to save the world:

“Why can’t you just do it yourself?  Aren’t you a Goddess?”

“I can no longer manifest in the world of man.  Darkness has taken
a powerful vessel.  He draws on its strength, and its anger.  I cannot leave
here.”  She raised her arms, and pointed out to the void surrounding them.

“You mean, you’re trapped?”


“Darkness alone is nothing.  Darkness in numbers decimates.”

Magellan took a deep breath, and swallowed hard.  “So, what do we do?”

“You are the factotum.  You are my hands, even when they are tied.”

He took a step back.  “You’re kidding, right?  You want me to fight Darkness?”

I don’t know why, but I am really tickled by this short scene.  Even though this didn’t make it into my final draft, I smile every time I read it.

There is just something about a thirteen-year-old boy having a conversation with an ancient, cryptic goddess, and him saying to her… “Say what?”  It just makes me laugh.  I think it’s the pure innocence of a child paired with the ethereal knowledge of a goddess.  I don’t know… it just makes me smile and feel warm inside.

Have you ever written something “short and sweet” that makes you feel like this, but had to cut it for one reason or another?  I’d love to read it.

Send me the link, or post it below (try to keep them to about 100 or so words).   This is your one chance for others to read that special scene that you have stored somewhere because you love it so much.

Artwork by Istvan Szabo:  Preliminary art for HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT (Contracted)


40 responses to “Letting go of your “Little Darlings”. Great Scenes You’ve edited OUT of your novel

  1. Half of my brain is actually trained to edit (i.e. I took classes and have done some work in the field), and I let it loose when I edit my own work.

    I don’t exactly keep anything, but I don’t get rid of it permanently either. It’s more like I have versions of the novel, numbered drafts with the old stuff and the tracked changes edits kept. But I never go back and look at any of it. I think I’m afraid of the temptation to put back in something I love but know weakens the story or the writing. My editor brain distrusts my writer brain. It’s kind of funny sometimes.

    • I don’t think I’ve ever looked back at mine, either … but I like the safety net of it being there. Also, there are some amazing scenes that I cut because they didn’t fit … but with only minor tweeking, I an use them in another book.

  2. I think I’m going to have to cut my entire first chapter, or a good portion of it. I’m dreadfully upset over it, but I think it must be done.

  3. thanks chick! zharptitsa (my url) is the firebird, in russian. 😉 Well wishes on the purging. Save the purges though, they can be implemented elsewhere. I read on the twilight website (oh lord, don’t ask me how I got there) that whatshername started writing the first book from the perspective of the guy instead of the girl (so I read it) and I remember thinking it would have been good to have both first chapters in the book, length be damned. But I’m not a publisher, whatdoIknow? lol

  4. Yes, I have a chapter length prologue that I finally took out of my book, but I still go back and read it and sigh…and smile. It makes me happy (it just had too many spoilers in it that I felt would detract from the surprise in the story). I also am bad at HAVING to KNOW what happens to my characters AFTER the story is done. So I have lots of epilogues and middle-logues (my made up word) of my characters at different spots in their life later on. Those are my darlings, but no one else will ever read them.

  5. Magellan sounds priceless!

  6. oh, i’m the brutalist. i think it comes from my editorial background – but nothing is precious in my manuscript. i’m crazy with the delete key 🙂

    though i have a feeling somewhere down the line, there will be a change that i’ll blink twice at…

  7. I wrote this great scene in my WIP but it was so out of character for my protagonist – but I loved it. I decided it was worth keeping – just not for that WIP and used it as a jumping board for a whole new story.

  8. Oh, I don’t think there’s anything I’ve cut I’d want to share, lol. It’s cut for a reason . . . if I like something I cut I can usually modify it for the next story–I keep a file for that kind of thing:) BTW, doing an Easter Basket Full of YA books giveaway . . . if you’re interested stop by my blog this week!

  9. I had to cut the very first scene I wrote in my first novel. That was so hard to do. But I’ve kept it, like every other bit I’ve removed. You never know when you can recycle them. Also, this particular scene will make some nice “extra content” on my future website when the book is published. 🙂

  10. Sometimes it’s as simple as a phrase or description that I enjoyed. Had a line in my first few versions where I described my MC’s suicide by knife with the image of his pierced-through heart being pinned like some obscene alien butterfly. Gruesome I know, but I was proud of it! v.v;;
    Longer passages have to deal with description too, like where my secondary character gives a more or less chapter-length description of her origins and the nature of the universe. It hasn’t been cut yet and I’m bracing for the attack for a future editor saying it needs to be.

  11. I’ve cut entire chapters that I really liked. 😦 Why? My reader and editor agreed that they need to go.

  12. I have a meticulously researched Army Ranger that I cut out of my novel. I don’t know. I’m not finished with the novel. Maybe there is a bit part in there somewhere for him.

  13. Can’t think of anything specific off the cuff, but I have had to part ways with scenes in the past, and it is like chopping off a finger. Well, maybe a fingernail. 🙂

  14. Aww. Killing darlings is so hard. They’re cute, and cuddly, and sweet. It’s a ruthless job, being a writer. 😉

    (btw, –typo in first line, just in case you didn’t see –“darning” instead of “darling” –always wish people would point mine out to me, lol)

  15. Nice scene. I like to keep my deleted scenes and snippets. You can always incorporate in something else later on.

  16. I never delete anything I write.

    This was one of my faves from my novel ages ago. It doesn’t read anything like this anymore. It’s a tad longer than 100 words, but it’s a quick read.

    Charlotte put on her coat. David slid into the seat beside her.

    “Charlotte, you know I care about you a lot, right?”

    “Yeah, I know.”

    “Will you do something for me?

    She shrugged. “Sure, I guess.”

    “Promise me we’ll always be friends – that no matter what, we’ll always have each other.”

    Charlotte smiled. “Always is a long time, David.”

    “It is eternity to be exact and your point?” He held her hand. “I guess I need to know that no matter how weird things get, or how crazy life becomes, we’ll always have each other. We’ll have that perfect friendship that will stand the test of time and never fail. I want to know that all of that sappy stuff that we actually write in each other’s yearbooks will mean something; that it won’t be a lie.”

    “David, you’re scaring me. Of course we’ll always be friends. Forever and ever, I promise.” She playfully pushed him from the booth. “Now get your coat and let’s go.”

  17. When I tightened the focus of Homecoming, I lost a lot of scenes that took place in the past, entire chapters, so too long to post here. But, I would so love to work some of those beauties into another manuscript.

  18. So far, I haven’t had to cut anything that I’ve really liked, so I don’t have any of these in storage. Maybe I don’t cut enough out in editing? 😛

  19. Ah little darlings. I remember this scene too. I wonder what else got cut?

  20. Does genius burn, Jo?

    lol “little darlings” sounds so familiar but I can’t place it. Does the term come from Little Women? It’s SO hard to purge parts of books we love and want included.