When my debut novel, The Duchess Quest, was first completed, it clocked in at approximately 175,000 words. (In non-writer speak, that’s almost the length of 3 books.) In order to be publishable, months of editing – longer than it took to write the initial manuscript, in fact! – were required to whittle it down to about 90K. Countless chapters, even entire characters, were eliminated, most of which I no longer have. But one deleted scene almost made the final cut, until I decided to remove it for pacing. It’s short and subtle, but a favorite interaction of mine between Bos and Dainy. Sometimes I search for it, forgetting it’s not in the actual book. Published or not, in my mind, the following conversation took place. Enjoy!
THEY MADE CAMP IN A field that could have very well passed for the same one from the night before. Game and firewood were scarce, so they were bound to retire with growling stomachs again. However, being rather eager for their impending entry into Häffstrom and the promise of horses to carry their weary, travel-worn selves back to Omar Village, the others had found it difficult to sleep, instead taking to a rather childlike game of capturing fireflies.
Selu was across the way with Macmillan, while Cosmith lounged on the ground, his head resting upon his hat as he watched them in amusement.
But where was Eludaine? Bos wondered with a start, turning his head to seek the girl. He was ashamed to admit, but in his fascination with their new lady companion, he had become rather neglectful in his supervision of the young royal.
There came a noisy rustling in the grass behind him, and Bos’s breathing steadied with relief to see the Duchess’s small shadow approaching him under the waning moonlight.
“Bos,” she greeted. “May I have a word?”
He inclined his great head. “Of course.”
She wasted no time. “Look, I know you like Selu. But I don’t trust her.”
Bos stiffened. The girl might’ve been a duchess, but she was still only that: a girl. She didn’t know of what she spoke. “You are wrong,” he told her plainly. “Seluna is not what she seems.”
“Not what she seems?” repeated Eludaine. “She’s a bandit. And yet, perhaps simply because she is slender and appealing, you have allowed your better judgment to be dimmed by the charms of a thief.”
“Let us not forget whose judgment was first dimmed by the charms of a thief,” Bos told her significantly.
Silence stretched between them until he spoke again. “Seluna has told me her story. She has seen many sorrows, been wronged by the New Republic, as have we. It’s not her fault she was driven to such a life.”
Clearly recognizing her inability to sway him, Eludaine huffed and made to depart, but Bos called out to her. She halted, her back to him.
“Her actions may have been misguided,” said Bos, softening at the thought of the violet-haired woman. “But beneath it all,” he insisted, “her heart is good.”