My Sweet Darlings

My Sweet Darlings

I love our current theme of deleted scenes. Our guests’ posts are fabulous and they provide good ideas on their personal treatment of editing.

KILL YOUR DARLINGS!

I know writers HAVE to kill their darlings but I don’t always. Darlings aren’t all equal. I love some more than others, and those, I keep in a file titled “Kitchen Scraps”.

Kitchen Scraps comes from my very beginning as a writer, when I didn’t know what I was doing and was in BLISS. My current WIP, The French Way, is about a young female French aristocrat who has to flee Paris or get guillotined. My hero is an English gentleman playing a scarlet pimpernel (I hope you know about the scarlet pimpernel).

But The French Way didn’t start so clean. My first idea was to have a famous French Chef in London – female, how impossible is that – who helps out aristocrats in London who have escaped from the Terror. The story revolved around food, mainly the great food of the French versus the bland food of the British.

My hero was a penny-pinching English lord who won my heroine’s services – as a Chef, don’t get any idea – in a card game. He was involved in the British counter-intelligence and his goal was to find traitors in London who wanted to overthrow the crown and create a revolution like the French. His suspicions were on the heroine.

It was BLISS, I tell you. I didn’t know my story was too convoluted, the romance too sparse, the heroes not defined enough. I learned though, and The French Way is much stronger now than in those blissful years.

Since my “darlings” were related to food, I called my storage file, Kitchen Scraps. Here are a few example:

His eyes opened wide and he approached her.  “Why are you dressed like a boy?  Is that a sword?  Can I see it?”

“Not now.  You can stay here if you want,” Sophie offered the boy.  “The kitchen maids will be here in a few hours and they will cook breakfast.”

His thin chest puffed out in protest.  “I’m going with you.  You might need my protection.”

His thin face reminded her of the many orphans she had fed at the back of the Inn in Paris.  Billy was like those children, tossed into poverty, struggling to survive, one day at a time.

“Sir Billy, you honor me,” she said, wising to spare his feelings.  “But the kitchen maids when they come will need a man to carry in the milk.  Can you stay, please?”

He thought for a moment and nodded his head.  “Aye, I’ll help the maids.”

“Thank you.  I would also appreciate if you didn’t tell them about my disguise.  It will be our secret.”

Here’s another:

“Miss Sophie, I want to convey my felicitations for the White Dinner soirée,” Nicholas said over the wails of Sanders. He retrieved his handkerchief from his pocket and wiped the blood from his sword.

He watched Sophie pull her knife from the wall. “Thank you, my lord,” she said in that accent of hers that stoke the embers of his passion for the French Chef.

If he hadn’t ducked his head, she would have beheaded him. What a deadly aim. “My guest were impressed with your menu. Lady Summerfield had never had crème chantilly before.”

Not the best writing in the world but they always draw a smile when I reread them. What about you? Please share a few darlings you didn’t kill.

14 Comments

  1. Those are great excerpts, and I’m glad they are put away for another day rather than permanently deleted. I do the same, keeping scenes in a much less creatively named folder, “misc writings”.

    Reply
    • Thanks for stopping by, Sharron. :)

      Reply
  2. It is a painful process, isn’t it, when you have these lovely scenes that just seemed to flow (and sometimes flow and flow and flow, which becomes part of the problem), but at the end doesn’t move the story anywhere. Sigh. And suddenly instead of being the Genius Author you have been enchanted into the Grand Executioner!

    I liked the bits you shared from your Kitchen Scraps, for what it’s worth.

    Reply
    • Thanks, Beppie! I like grand executioner. I have an executioner in my story; he manipulates the guillotine. Yikes!

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  3. Carole, I so remember those BLISS days, from long ago when we first met. That was my first writing workshop.

    Love that you’re keeping these gems in a kitchen scrap file. I know what you mean about convoluted. I had to scrap an entire subplot in my historical The Botanist’s Daughter. I had way too much going on.

    Even today as I edit a new WIP, I needed to remind myself to simplify a scene. I love making things complicated.

    I can definitely see you writing a book that has cooking elements. Now that my daughter is in culinary school, I will definitely write something around food. Cooking, eating, writing, sound good?

    Reply
    • Sounds like my life!!

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  4. I think cutting is the hardest… I always keep my deleted scenes, too. Never know when you might be able to use one.

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    • So right. I have a few darlings that if I change the names, the snappy dialog would fit somewhere else. I’m all about reclaiming.

      Reply
  5. Love your name “Kitchen Scraps!” I am working on a WIP set in 1942, and have already changed the first chapter three times. I saved some bits from an old draft hoping to use it later in the novel. We’ll see….

    Reply
    • 1942… That’d be a lot of research for me! Thanks for stopping by, Lynn.

      Reply
  6. LOVE the Kitchen Scraps, Carole. Both the actual excerpts and the filename.

    I don’t know why I saved this snippet because normally my Cuts file is reserved for lines I might use later, either in the ms they came from or in another work. This paragraph’s time to shine will never come.

    Perhaps I kept it because this paragraph was a defining moment as I worked out who I believed Carmen, a household hints columnist in 1963 Dallas, and her editor, were, along with a glimpse of their world. Reading this line again, even though it no longer has a place in the manuscript, serves as a nice reminder of the overall vision as I work through revisions.

    ~

    At least Vic didn’t pat her on the head like her last editor, the one in Philadelphia, did. That pat on the head told Carmen everything she would ever need to know about his philosophy on football, life, and women. Cute girls should not be smart, and smart girls, really smart girls like Carmen, should want something more out of life than being a reporter. Politics, poverty, pigskins–reporting was men’s turf. Girls who wanted to champion a cause, any cause, should be the kind of girls that have nothing to do on Friday nights, and no one to spend Friday nights with.

    Reply
    • I love that little excerpt! Thanks for sharing.

      Reply
  7. Great post, Carole. There was one scene I’d deleted that my editor put back in.

    Reply
    • It must have been good. And necessary to the plot. Don’t editors usually cut scenes out?

      Reply

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