My Dearest Fellow Conspirators,

Today, I’d like to take a moment to honor something in my books that isn’t there.

What I’m talking about are deleted scenes. You’ve seen stuff like this before on that DVD menu button that lets you see outtakes, alternate shots, and scenes that didn’t make the movie’s final cut. (Remember DVDs?)

You might know those missing moments as “Easter eggs”—those little treats you get for being a curious and invested viewer.

Sometimes, the act of trimming down your own work is referred to as “Killing your darlings.”

This is because we tend to think of our words as our children, and the act of eliminating them has been described as a traumatic experience by countless writers.

I have to admit, I’ve slaughtered more than my fair share of darlings. As for being traumatized, I must be from a different part of the jungle because—and I hate to admit it—I get kind of a kick out of hacking away at my own work. For me, it’s less about killing my darlings and more about trimming the fat.

For better or worse (and I’m hoping it’s for better!), stories and the characters who inhabit them morph and fluctuate as they grow. After various stages of writing, editing, and proofreading have been completed, some scenes get changed; others just don’t make the cut.

For example, did you know that in one of the early drafts of Recruitment, only the boys were going to be taken away?

At one point, early on in Recruitment, Brohn asks Kress to promise him that she’ll take care of his kid sister Wisp if anything should happen to him.

Karmine was going to have a greater presence and was intended to wind up paired off with Kella.

Render originally included several scenes based on the theory of Primary Perception. [That’s a mostly discredited theory developed in the 1960s by CIA interrogation Specialist Cleve Backster, who essentially theorized that plants—along with all organic organisms—possess Extra Sensory Perception and can feel pain.]

Originally, the entire beginning of Survival took place at the end of Rebellion.

In Sacrifice, Adric and Celia (remember them and their gang from Render?) were going to make a re-appearance, but they wound up being a no-show.

Sometimes, I go back and read my notes and skim through altered or deleted scenes. It’s interesting to remind myself about all the choices that go into creating these worlds. It’s even more interesting, though, to see how characters have evolved over time to the point where, now, they’re the ones making the call.

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Conspiratorially yours,