Deleting or reworking scenes in a book often feels like cutting your hair without a mirror while using preschool scissors

Editing out scenes is tough for me. I mean, I wrote the words, they must be important. Things that often get cut or reworked usually involve me telling the reader my thoughts. I want to let readers know the backstory, but there’s a fine line between giving too much and too little information. The scene below is technically still in Matters of the Heart, book 3 in my Discerning God’s Best Series, but in a completely different format where the reader is engaged with the action.

Air escaped Hans’s nose in a huff. He’d been a fool to request a non-combat unit. How could he abide by taking life, human or animal, even if it meant freeing the slaves? He didn’t know his request would place him in a position to choose if these men lived or died by his hand. His role was futile. Even if they survived, they would never be the same—neither would he.

How many lives had been lost in this war between states, friends, family? An image of his brothers flashed across his mind. Dried blood marked his face as he struggled to wipe the vision away. No word came from his three siblings. Johann and Otto had accepted orders to fight at the first opportunity. Gathering what guns, musket balls, and buckshot pellets they’d not needed to leave behind to keep the women safe on the farm in their absence, they’d gone for training before they had time for proper goodbyes.

The Union quickly found a place for Franc to serve as a cook. Hans felt the beginning of an unfamiliar laugh before it turned into a cynical smirk. If Franc hadn’t killed anyone with his biscuits, the Army had likely ordered him to make more so they could use them for ammunition.

That is one seriously rough draft. Not a single piece of dialog.

When I write, I work to get the basics down first, then reread and tweak multiple times. I know I need to make a change when I have multiple paragraphs in a row without characters speaking and interacting. The above section went through several revisions, as did the character of Hans.

Hans has a long way to go in Matters of the Heart* to change his perspective on life and his perception of a loving God. In this post-Civil War story, we are reintroduced to Hans Korhonen, a minor character in the first book in my Discerning God’s Best Series. Each book is a standalone novel, but reading the books in order is the most satisfying.

If you’d like an opportunity to win a signed paperback of book 3, sign up for my newsletter before May 9th. You’ll receive a free digital copy of Deep in my Heart, the prequel to the series.

Deep in my Heart sets the stage for this riveting series. If you are already signed up but haven’t read Desire of my Heart*, grab it now. Book one is FREE if you have Amazon Prime, but only until June 1. Under the Kindle Unlimited Read for Free button, you will see the FREE Prime option. Click and download as you would any Kindle purchase.

To read the changed version of the above, you can purchase Matters of the Heart on Amazon or read it for free on Kindle Unlimited*. I’d love to hear how you liked the changes made.

*Please note this is an affiliate link. As always, it costs you nothing extra, and anything I earn goes to my chocolate fund.

Published by Author Heidi Gray McGill

Heidi and her husband of over thirty years live in South Carolina. Besides writing Christian fiction with relatable characters in life-changing stories, Heidi relishes time with family and friends. She enjoys scrapbooking, playing games, traveling, and building bridges with her grandsons that must fall with a loud crash and usually involve a monster truck.

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