Kill your darlings.”
This advice is hard to take, especially as a new writer. You write a scene you love, introduce an appealing minor character, or fall in love with a conversation. It’s perfect.
Just not perfect for the book.
Every writer has to kill scenes, characters, and phrases she loves. For Wild Rose, Book One in The Late Bloomers Series, I chose to delete a scene with Rose’s ex-boyfriend near the beginning of the book, an attempted booty call with a little role play. It was a fun scene to write, and it laid out some traits of Rose’s I could have used later in the book, but it slowed the pace of the story. It was unnecessary, so I killed it.
The Scene is dead. Long live the Scene!
The Deleted Scene (first draft, unedited)
“Steve, it’s Natasha. I’ve managed to smuggle the secrets away from the KGB, but they’ve got me cornered. Can you help me escape tonight?” Rose outlined the rim of her wineglass with her finger as she waited for Steve’s response.
“Oh, Rose, it’s so good to hear from you! It has been a while, hasn’t it?” He sounded nervous, and she suspected he wasn’t alone. Even at his most buttoned-down and political, Steve was usually up for a little sexual flirtation over the phone, especially in anticipation of a sure thing.
“I’ve been thinking that the pressures of the political life must have you stressed out these days, Steve. Want to come over and save the world with me and Jason Bourne? I’ll even make my famous homemade caramel popcorn to sweeten the deal, unless that would be considered a political bribe.” The wine made her bolder than usual, but since there wasn’t a relationship anymore she didn’t feel the need to please anyone but herself.
“Your caramel popcorn could be considered a political bribe in the right situation, that’s a fact!” His fake-happy robot voice was starting to get on her nerves. If he kept talking like this, she was definitely going to lose that warm glow she had going between her legs. She might even decide not to vote for him.
“Steve, is there someone else in the room, or did you turn into an actual political machine since the last time we saw each other?” She realized after saying it that she was the worst booty caller in the history of the game. No one would write a rap song about her smooth moves, that’s for sure.
“Hey, Rose. It has been a long time. I’ve been meaning to get in touch and tell you about my engagement. We’re announcing it next week in the paper, and I should have told you sooner. I’m getting married to Elizabeth Watson next summer.” He said it so fast she thought he might lose his breath.
Rose stopped for a moment to consider what he just said. Even Steve, with his rules and restrictions about his public persona and his inability to be interesting outside the bedroom, was getting married. Someone wanted to spend the rest of her life with him, and Rose always considered him a lot more screwed up than she was.
The whole time they were together she thought she was doing him a bigger favor, and here he was getting married to a beautiful and smart woman like Elizabeth Watson. She knew and liked Liz, and she realized they would be a great pair. And then immediately she wondered if she’d misjudged the balance in their relationship the entire time. Maybe he was doing her a favor, and maybe she was the one who was more screwed up. She did not like the places her mind was going with this news. Rose could feel the over-thinking part of her brain gear up for warp drive. She wouldn’t be able to shut down this analysis of her faults for days.
“Well congratulations to you, Steve. I’m glad you found someone to make you happy, though I will miss our occasional adventures. Liz is a lucky woman, and you are going to have a wonderful life together.” She could be the bigger person here. They didn’t have a hot love affair, so there was no reason why he had to tell her first about his engagement. But she did feel stupid about the sexy come-on in light of his revelation.
“Hey, you set the bar pretty high, you know. For a while I thought it was going to be you.” After he said that she let the phrase sit there in silence. There’s no way he meant that and no way she did, either. But out of all the awkward things said on this call so far, she could let that one go.
“So how are things with you, Rose?” he asked.
“Life is good, Steve. Rachel is taking a year to travel the world and discover herself. She keeps trying to get me to meet up with her in Italy, can you believe that?” Rose didn’t want to keep talking to him anymore. This conversation was going to tarnish every sexual memory she had with him, and since there was no one new on the horizon she was going to have to mine that material for the foreseeable future. Preservation was key.
“Rose, you should go! Those Italian men would love meeting a woman like you. You know they like a more mature woman.” He stopped abruptly. “Um, you know what I mean.”
“Well thanks for what I think was a compliment, Steve,” she said with a laugh. “I think I should let you get back to what you were doing. It was good to catch up with you. Take care now.”
She put the phone down and stretched out on her bed, thinking about her options. Steve was off the table. She had no idea who else she could meet in this town. Didn’t she already know every single person within 100 miles? It felt like it.
What did she want in her life now that Rachel was gone? The mother in her didn’t want to accept it, but the woman in her was ready for a more sensual life, one that included a lover and possible partner. And a lot more laughter and fun.
“I should call Ivy.” She typed a reminder into her phone for first thing tomorrow morning, right after her make-up call with Rachel.
She planned to have this whole thing sorted by tomorrow.
What made the cut? Find out by reading Wild Rose, Book One in The Late Bloomers Series. This is the story that started them all!
(Be sure to listen to the first chapter at the above link, a teaser of the audiobook coming in November!)