Sometimes, when editing a manuscript, a writer has to engage in a practice known as ‘murdering your darlings’. This is when you’re irrationally attached to a particular piece of your work and feel sad when you finally admit that it needs to go.
In my case, I used to love the first scene of chapter one of “Ruled by Desire”, even though everyone (critique partners, writing friends, contest judges, and the people who commented on my Dearauthor.com first page) said it needed to go. Finally I realized that, as much as I liked it (and I liked particular bits of it very, very much), the scene as a whole didn’t work. So, I drew a metaphorical red line through the entire thing.
Here follows an extract from the lost scene. It takes place in London’s famous Reform Club, of which James, our hero, is a member. Here he talks to Mr. Lytton, our heroine Francesca’s elderly uncle, about her impending scandalous divorce. My darling lives on (but, let’s face it, it probably isn’t that great anyway.)
James had always known the marriage wasn’t happy, but he’d never imagined she’d leave. Where had little Francesca Thorne found the courage—or gall—to do a thing like that?
Lytton leaned forward in his seat. “You know what she’s been up to despite everything that’s been said, despite everybody’s warnings?”
James fancied he saw every man in the room, hidden as many of them were behind pristine newspapers, lean in closer.
“She’s looking for a house,” Lytton declared.
One or two of the papers rustled, the only sign that a grenade, or its verbal equivalent, had just gone off in the room. By setting up in a house of her own, Fran sent a clear message. She would not bow to public pressure. Not now, not ever.