I’m a plotter. Every book I write begins with an idea about a character that quickly develops into a scene. Then I figure out what has to happen to make my hero or heroine get their happy ever after and write the outline that’s my road map for the book. And I’ll stick by that map pretty faithfully. Except, like anyone who’s ever followed a map, I sometimes find myself on a detour. I don’t always know it’s a detour. In fact, quite often I don’t. Until my beta reader or my editor tells me “This scene needs to go.”
Gasp! No! Not my baby!
Sometimes because of word count limitations. Sometimes because the scene isn’t really necessary to the plot. Often because the scene just doesn’t work properly. Deleting scenes is never pleasant, but a necessary evil.
In the opening scene of Only Scandal Will Do, I moved from the current dilemma of the heroine to a flashback of the events of that morning. It was a fun scene--Katarina and her brother Jack having breakfast and when Katarina doesn’t get her way, she resorts to…well…a food fight. The reader got a good idea of Kat’s and Jack’s personalities and their devotion to each other.
The problem? It was a flashback. That scene stopped the immediate action and acted as an information dump. That didn’t help the book one bit. So no matter how much fun the scene seemed, I had to let it go.
What also comes with cutting a scene, besides the heartbreak, is often a tendency to second-guess yourself. Should I have kept that scene in? Would the book be stronger if I had? There’s no true way to know. That’s what your beta readers and editors are for. If they notice a hole where that scene used to be, hopefully they’ll tell you and you can plug it back in. Or they may be the ones who say, “You don’t really need that scene. It’s slowing the pace. It’s redundant. It doesn’t work.” Not the best note to get, but ultimately you’re sacrificing a part for the good of the whole.
And the scene doesn’t have to completely disappear.
One entire chapter in Scandal became a bone of contention between my readers and I. They thought the scene should go; I wanted it to stay. But…it really didn’t forward the action, the chapter wasn’t in the POV of either the hero or the heroine, and the information could be given in later chapters. And I still didn’t want to let go.
Finally, a beta reader suggested that I turn the scene into a free read to help promote a later book in the series in which these characters reoccur. This is a win/win situation for deleted scenes. You get to keep the scene, readers get a free read, and your novel is the stronger for deleting it. In fact, I turned the breakfast scene into a free read short story on my blog for Scandal’s release day.
Who says you can’t have your cake and eat it too?
Kidnapped and sold at auction in a London brothel, Lady Katarina Fitzwilliam squelches an undeniable attraction to the masked stranger who purchased her, pits her wits against him, and escapes him and the scandal that would ruin her life.
Unable to resist temptation in a London brothel, Duncan Ferrers, Marquess of Dalbury, purchases a fiery beauty. She claims she's a lady, but how can she be? No lady of his acquaintance in polite society is anything like her.
Then he discovers she is who she says, and that this latest romp has compromised her reputation. He knows how that is. One more scandal and he'll be cast out of London society, but he needs a wife who'll provide an heir to carry on his illustrious family's name. He seeks out Katarina, intending only to scotch the scandal, but instead finds his heart ensnared.
He's betting their future he'll capture her heart, but does he have what it takes to win the wager?
WARNING: A blade-wielding heroine who crosses swords with a master of sensuality.
Jenna Jaxon is a multi-published author of historical and contemporary romance who has been reading and writing historical romance since she was a teenager. A romantic herself, Jenna has always loved a dark side to the genre, a twist, suspense, a surprise. She tries to incorporate all of these elements into her own writing.
Jenna lives in Virginia with her family and a small menagerie of pets. When not reading or writing, she indulges her passion for the theatre, working with local theatres as a director. She often feels she is directing her characters on their own private stage.
She has equated her writing to an addiction to chocolate because once she starts she just can’t stop.