Composition is only a small part of the writing process. Editing is a larger part, more time consuming, and composes equal parts composition and destruction. A writer often hears the advice ‘you have to kill your darlings’ from editors and from other writers.
Herein you will find a few of my darlings – and a few things that should probably never have been written in the first place.
From the third of the Wizard and Warrior novelettes; a scene where Regnar competes at archery with the commander of the archers at Burnsdale Garrison. Out of character for the commander, as Regnar is a mere private. In the final version, the scene is shortened and Regnar is replaced with the Alfkund prince, Feliferufal.
“Range clear? Good. You may fire.” In a lower voice, he said to Regnar, “How about a friendly little contest, Private? A dozen arrows each, as fast as you can fire. Ten points for a bull’s eye, eight for the ring outside it. Ten extra points to the first one to fire his last arrow. Private Belan can watch to see who finishes first.” “I’ve little hope of beating a master archer,” said Regnar, “but I’ll try my luck. Belan, call the start, will you?” “Yes, of course,” Belan said. “Ready?” Both men picked up their bows. As they did so, a whining buzz like distant thunder echoed softly in the back of Belan’s mind, sending goosebumps up the back of his neck. He glanced around at the other wizards – he’d long since learned to recognize the feel of spellcasting being done nearby, but they were all busy with their bows. No one else on the field seemed to be doing anything that looked like spellcasting, either. Breathing deeply, he let his mind lose thought, relaxing and letting his eyes drift out of focus. Directly in front of him, like a long blue sliver of moonlight, Ayrtes’ bow was alight with flowing mana. “Belan,” said Regnar, “Are you going to call it?” “Yes, sorry,” said Belan. “On my mark, fire.” He stared, fascinated, as the magic of the bow shivered and burst with every arrow Ayrtes fired. He was so entranced that he was not paying attention when they finished. “I had not fired my seventh arrow when you finished, sir,” said Regnar. “That ten points to you, easily.” “Let us look at the targets,” said Ayrtes. They walked down the line, Belan following. He was still admiring the bow when they crouched to look at where their arrows had landed. All but one of Regnar’s arrows was inside the bull’s eye, and that one lay directly on the line between the eye and the first ring outside. “That was your seventh shot,” said Ayrtes. “You were distracted when I finished. You need to watch that.” “Yes, sir,” said Regnar. He looked at the other target, and scratched his newly-shaved head. “Great Shorn,” he said. “Belan, look at that.” Belan tore his eyes away from the bow and looked at the target. Ayrtes’ arrows were arranged in a perfect spiral, with the outermost one not more than two inches from the arrow dead center in the bull’s eye. “Impressive,” said Belan. “I’ve never seen anyone shoot like that.” He glanced back at the bow, then up to Ayrtes’ face. The master archer was watching him eyeball the bow, but turned and began to pull arrows from the target without saying anything.
From “What’s in a Name?”, a novella I’m working on. I reversed a couple of sections, which meant lots of cut lines.
“Wait,” she said. “They’re never going to be able to get into that cell.” “I’m sure the Stormlord is close behind.” I could hear them stomping through the front room, calling for the guard. They came around the corner, peering into the blackness and flipping the light switch a couple of times. One of them stepped forward, looking into the cell, while the other peered down the hallway.
I nodded and looked back towards the iron door, pulling the cattleprod out of her hand and gripping it tightly.
We started for the door and stopped dead as the front door in the other room opened. The Stormlord’s voice echoed in, ordering someone else to follow. We looked at each other and retreated back into the shadows of the hallway.
“Quiet, now,” I hissed at the sisters. They trembled but said nothing. I looked down at my companion, but she shrugged back helplessly. “I don’t know his Name,” she mouthed silently. I briefly considered why she’d think that was important. Perhaps the Emperor demanded that she tell him every name she found, but I was determined to dissuade her from the idea that I was anything like him.