It can be hard to let things go, but if someone or something in your story doesn’t do anything for the plot, throw it out.
One of the worst things you can do in your story is ramble on about things that slow the story down. You might know some awesome tidbit from the research you did for the story, or there might be some clever line or scene that you love, or there might be a secondary character you adore. But (and I know this is hard), you have to get rid of anything that doesn’t add to the plot.
Yes, you don’t want to rush anything. But you also don’t want to do anything that slows down the story. Pacing is important. The balance is a delicate one. But in this post, I’m talking about avoiding things that will bore the reader. Anything that bores the reader needs to be thrown out.
The test, of course, is what to toss out. How do you decide such a thing?
An easy way to figure out if you need a scene is to remove it and see if the plot is still the same. If it is, kill the scene.
If you have a character that only seems to get in the way and doesn’t add anything to the story, toss him out. You might have had a plan for the character early on, but the story just didn’t go the way you planned and this character is no longer needed. If this is the case, get rid of him. Now if you have very minor character who adds some comic relief or some interesting little bit that doesn’t overwhelm the scene, then go ahead and keep him. It’s okay to have something small from a minor character inserted as long as it doesn’t detract from the plot.
If you’re info dumping about something you learned while researching on a topic for the book and this info dump does nothing to advance the plot, toss the info dump out.
If your characters are talking, and one says something that is a lot of fun or poetic, but this doesn’t lead into the rest of the conversation, you’ll have to kill it.
One thing you can do with these deleted parts is put them on your blog, add them as special scenes for those on your email lists, or add them to the end of the book (as you would a deleted scene in a DVD). So you don’t necessarily have to say good-bye to them completely.