Kill Your Darlings – but keep them

I love my editor. I really do. And she did her job by cutting out scenes that slowed down the story or didn’t add to the plot. But, but I liked the prose I’d worked so hard on.

From the cutting room floor, here are a couple of my darlings I parted with from The House on Moss Swamp Road.

Excerpt #1

Two Little Golden books read, a prayer said, and a girl tucked into bed, took an hour. The bedroom light turned off. The nightlight turned on. Goodnights with another round of hugs and kisses, Jane’s parents were finally able to leave, keeping the door slightly ajar.

Jane struggled to keep her tired eyes opened. She wanted a way to convince her parents of Charlotte’s existence. She tried to come up with ideas on how to find her friend. Nothing really presented itself. Tossing and turning helped her stay awake, but it didn’t answer questions. Sitting up in bed she started the head-nod and jerk-awake routine. Without wanting to, her body finally succumbed to sleep. The Sandman brought her a dream.

Excerpt #2

Somewhere in the pages of the Wizard of Oz, she fell asleep when the Queen of all field mice was rescued.

A small white card with shiny gold writing invited Jane to celebrate the Queen’s safe return. She followed a narrow well-trodden path to the mice’s front hole, hardly visible through the tall grass. Not a single mouse was insight. They must be at the celebration.

Where were her bucket and tools? I must have set it down when I picked up the card. She thought about retracing her steps, this would be a great place to dig. She turned to leave, but a huge green eye was pressed against the hole. She shrank back not wanting to be caught in its glare. It was probably the wild cat who lost his meal, the queen. With hurried steps, she progressed down the path.

The tunnel had a gentle downward slope that made walking easy. Curious items were embedded in the tunnel walls, ceiling, and floor. Looking closer Jane recognized things she kept on her shelf. There was a blue button, one of Barbie’s shoes, and a magnifying glass from a box of Cracker Jacks. How could this be? Her steps slowed, hesitant to continue but she didn’t want to face the cat.

Sounds of merriment and music encouraged Jane to walk faster. Maybe the Queen was nearby. Rounding the corner, Jane entered a different section of the tunnel that was narrower and looped back and forth repeatedly. The walls were smooth and elastic. The music grew louder but underneath it was a low undertone of rhythmic thumping that pulsed against Jane’s natural rhythms. It set her on edge causing her jaw to tighten. With the celebration just ahead she ignored the slight discomfort. She rounded the last corner. At last, she’d found the Queen and her loyal subjects.

The Queen clapped her hands as a trio of mice sang a familiar nursery rhyme. Others sat at long tables that were overloaded with cheese. An empty chair waited for her to join them. Jane took a step forward but was blocked by a shapeless blob that ballooned from the side of the wall. The discordant pulse increased. Her body struggled against conforming to its beat. Waves of dizziness woke her from the dream world.

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MC Dalton

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