Tag Archives: little darlings

Goals and Obstacles in every scene – Rule #18 of 32 Simple Rules to the Writing the Best Novel Ever


I’m dissecting the article Hunting Down the Pleonasm, by Allen Guthrie, using it as a cattle prod to search for little nasties in my manuscript.  Yep, you can join in the fun, too.  Let’s take a looksee at topic #18

18: Give your characters clear goals. Always. Every scene. And provide obstacles to those goals. Always. Every scene. If the POV character in a scene does not have a goal, provide one or cut the scene. If there is no obstacle, add one or cut the scene.

I have talked about this with almost every beta partner I ever had.  Why?  Because my first few beta partners spoke to me about this, and when I started listening, things started coming together for me.

This is where we start having to ax out “Little Darlings” – those scenes where two characters have a nice conversation, but NOTHING ACTUALLY HAPPENS.

Make sure every scene has conflict, and if it doesn’t chop it out.  If it is important to you, you can always post it as an “extra” on your website.  [Smile]


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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)