“Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate a piece of exceptionally fine writing, obey it—whole-heartedly—and delete it before sending your manuscript to press. Murder your darlings.” –Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, On the Art of Writing, 1916
In the course of bringing a novel to press, a lot of stuff gets left on the cutting room floor, not all of it bad. In the case of Endless Vacation, more was left on the floor than usual in my novels because it went through about 40 drafts as screenplay and novel before I finally shoved it out the door. Entire chapters of flashback story lines and abandoned plots.
Here’s an excerpt that used to be at the beginning of Chapter 5 that I was particularly fond of, but it did slow the pace somewhat in a moment of tension, so I allowed it to be pried from my fist.
The kitchen was reduced to chaos. It was as if a sorcerer’s apprentice had been called away suddenly in the midst of a particularly troublesome spell that had gone awry. Dave scanned the wreckage.
The island was an explosion of vegetables, cheeses, spices, seasonings, rubs, garlic cloves, three kinds of oil, four types of vinegar, wine bottles, condiments and sundry peelings, skins and hulls, in various stages of use and abandonment, interlarded with measuring cups oozing sauces, can openers, corkscrews, used knives, cheese-encrusted graters, discarded wrappings and half-empty boxes of ingredients.
The stove warehoused an array of pans and skillets like a graveyard of burnt-out war machines, some scorched, others glazed with garnishes in hardened grease or coated with a glutinous sauce of dubious provenance, and all overlaid with a dusting of flour like an early snowfall. Spatulas and ladles and tongs and a meat thermometer lay where they had fallen in battle.
The sink overflowed with discarded cans and colanders and whisks and bowls and plates and spoons. The floor appeared to be the work of a Jackson Pollock devotee who had settled on organic matter as his medium.
I especially like the stove paragraph. Oh well, one does what one must. Would you have the nerve to pull the trigger?