Revising; kill the darlings. You know, those amazing lines I wrote and took pride in but no one else cares. Yeah, those. They add nothing to my story, but I love them so, so much I want them to be there, even if they’re out of character, or whatever.
These are the scenes, phrases, paragraphs that, after betraying my own heart, didn’t make the cut. Did deleting them make my story better? I have no idea. Since I have read my book The Universe Between Us twenty-three times by now (just re-read it a week ago), I know my lines by memory, and each time I pass the butchered sections, their ghosts still haunt me. So I had to give them some spotlight, for I wrote them from the heart.
This scene was supposed to be the first (unedited, extensive use of the passive voice!):
The hovering glass stage reflected the clear blue sky. Behind the stage, the Ocean of Wisdom extended to the horizon, calm and appeasing, ready to claim another corpse.
On the center, directly under the tender warmth of Ningub, Zaoni’s sun, the valiant citizen, who would be executed for the good of Zaoni, was made to stand. A glorious moment of patriotism and respect for the society Zaoni’s ancestors helped to build.
For Zaoni, by Zaoni.
Anzu took his place in front of the crowd and looked the man in the eye; he was younger than Anzu, yet both of them were a genetic flaw.
The ceremony began. Thousands of citizens rose to their feet. Anzu took a deep breath; the wind brought with it, the delightful scent of salt and mint.
“We have an honorable citizen in front of us,” Damkina, Zaoni’s military commander, said. “One who is considerate for the greater good rather than having the selfish idea of deserving his ill-plagued life.” She glanced at the man. “Do you confess, here, in front of your fellow citizens that you are fatally ill with emotion?”
“Yes, I do,” said the man, his chin pushed high. “For Zaoni, by Zaoni.”
“Do you understand that it is an act of honor to recognize your sickness and die for Zaoni?”
“Yes, I do.”
“Is there any other citizens you know of that you would like to report?”
“What emotions are you sick with?”
“Love…” the man said, looked at the floor.
Damkina tied the man’s hands behind his back. He was dressed in a golden suit, color of honor.
Anzu couldn’t presence the execution. It tore him apart, but he had to fake a cold look, rigid and unmoved by murder, for his life’s sake. Was feeling really a fatal disease?
Then Ishuna, Zaoni’s leader, walked up to the sentenced man and bowed to the man. “Thanks to citizens like you, we maintain our greatness. Thank you.”
The man wept, shuddering.
Ishuna stepped aside.
Anzu’s heartbeat skyrocketed, his facial temperature increasing. Execution was his fate too, but he would never confess. He wanted to live free to feel.
Ishuna lowered her chin, the man pinched his eyes shut, and Damkina shot him in the head.
The man collapsed; the thud of his body, crashing against the glass was all that was heard. Damkina and Ishuna stepped back, and two guards covered the man’s corpse with a mantle as blue as the sky above. But the ritual was as cold as the wind. A life had been taken away. With what right?
“From the ocean he came, and to the ocean he returns,” Ishuna said, and the guards tossed the man’s corpse into the gleaming blue sea.
“Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” Anzu and the rest of the crowd roared.
“Give heed to such an act of honor,” Ishuna said, her eyes locked with Anzu’s. “If any of you feel, please report. If any of you know of anyone who feels, also report, or you will be charged with high treason.”
The crowd bowed at Ishuna and began dispersing to their stations of duty.
Should I confess about my illness? Anzu thought, Damkina walking up to him, rubbing her wrist. “I want to see you in my office. I’ll call you in later today.”
She clapped his arm and left.
This section appeared midway, and it’s from a war criminal’s POV.
“Blooming has a fatal destiny; it must die,” Sief said. “The flower must learn to crumble, to succumb to its final destiny with pride, to take all of its glory back to where it came from. It must learn to whither, leaving behind the code of what it was, a reflection of its greatest moment when it stood and provoked the awe of countless civilizations. From it, perhaps a new one blossoms. And so the cycle continues.”
He walked out of Eliza’s cell and continued towards the lab. The yellow light flashing ahead made him squint.
Maybe all conscious beings have within them, he thought, a spark of madness.
My MC said this after the aliens took away her joy (the emotion), forever.
Eliza said, “I died in my dreams.”
Anzu explaining his tidally locked world with a poetic voice (So not like him!).
“Its sun, scared of losing it, hindered its dance,” Anzu said. “One side faces the scorching heat, while the other freezes. Until one day, the star forever dies and takes with it the spell. Because who would want to live without dancing?”
Eliza’s first reaction when she met Anzu:
He reminded her of blazing flames, erupting volcanoes in the darkest of nights, intense heat waves, and danger.
The ship accelerated to incredible speeds, but Eliza couldn’t feel it. The stars became lines, like lasers flashing, or as if it was raining sand. Sief screamed in his language many things she knew were a way he combated his nerves, perhaps Zaoni curse words.
Nah, they are too formal.
Eliza felt as if a planet-sized vacuum cleaner was sucking her in from her back. Her eyes opened wide to the view. An enormous bubble appeared, black. On its borders—the surface, galaxies swirled. The closer they got, the more the bubble expanded to the sides.
Sief didn’t have to do anything, the bubble thing drove the ship towards it with immense force.
Everything stretched around her. And his screams were shouted in slow motion. “H— a—n—g o—n E—l!”
My first draft’s ending. No it doesn’t end like this! Lol.
“You see,” Eliza said, grabbing his hands. “We are like two asteroids on a collision course.”
“Why?” Anzu asked.
“Because when we meet you shatter me, and then I have to carry my broken pieces along with yours. You will always remind me of the pain, until somewhere, somehow, another asteroid, comet, or planet, or whatever, finally breaks me apart…forever.”
“No.It means we share each other. You carry a piece of me, and I carry a piece of you.”
“But I don’t want to collide again,” said Eliza.
“You can’t evade gravity.”