As I write, I keep a file of “thrown out” lines and scenes that don’t work with the plot. When I have a strong outline, this doesn’t happen so much. But when I’m winging-it, I may end up throwing out an entire character. I tell writers all the time: Don’t be married to your first draft.
And yet, I know how hard it is to part with words. In fact, I still haven’t gotten get rid of the “thrown out” files on my computer. They are my friends. It’s like I’m a digital hoarder! I keep thinking, “Maybe one day I’ll use that line or that scene!”
Well, it seems today is the day. Perhaps someone can use them and/or learn from the reasons why there were cut to help make choices about their own drafts. (See – I knew I there was a reason why I couldn’t rid of them!)
When I tell you God was not happy about me askin’, I ain’t lyin’. I’m not saying He was mad. Just saying I got the feelin’ He didn’t like me pokin’ around in Frank’s past.
Why was it cut? I think Mama B did actually go pokin’ into his past a little bit!
My first novel, Boaz Brown, had playground chants at the beginning of every chapter to open up the childhood flashbacks. But they were cut at the last minute because the editor felt that they were a distraction. I was too hurt! I really wanted to have “Down, down, baby, down by the roller coaster” in my book. In retrospect, I think my editor was right. But I’m still gonna make a coffee table book out of those songs one day!
From Falling Into Grace
Ronald was right, too. Kyra didn’t need to pimp herself to people like John David who asked her to do stupid stuff like join churches so she could sing. But what if she hadn’t joined the church? What if she’s never joined the choir? She never would have met Ronald.
Why was it cut? Well, a person’s name was changed (Kyra became Camille). And “pimp” is a strong word for Christian Fiction (at least it was at the time).
From Last Temptation
He followed me back to the table and we began discussing Eric’s situation. The weight settled back in my chest again. When I had a job, there was no question in my mind that Eric would be getting all the care and services necessary to overcome his academic challenges. If I didn’t get a job in the next two or three months, I might have to make a choice—did I want Eric to be able to read or eat?
Why was it cut? I made this more of a “showing” than a “telling”.
Why was Daphne trying to turn his world upside down?Maybe he should just leave her alone. Drop this whole relationship and find somebody he didn’t have so much history with.
Why was it cut? I moved it until later in the book, and by then he was too far in love to think these exact words.
From Stepping Down
None of them had done what the doctors described as “unimaginable”—keeping him pinned to his seat at the point of impact so that he didn’t go flying out the window. Only One God had done that.
Why was it cut? I can’t remember, but now I kinda wish I had kept it!
After writing more than 40 books, you can imagine that I’ve got plenty more lines sitting on the virtual cutting room floor. But this is what writing is all about – doing what needs to be done with words to convey a strong message. Sometimes, great words must be sacrificed on the altars of plot, consistency, and necessity. Getting rid of extra words, lines, scenes, or even characters will only help your writing become more succinct!