But claiming that you want to keep a scene just because you "liiiiiiiked it," wasn't good enough. Let me give you an example. Below is a scene of that got cut from Cleopatra's Moon. A young Cleopatra Selene wakes up in the dark burning to confront her parents (Mark Antony and Cleopatra) about something. The larger scene stayed in the book, but Cheryl wanted me to cut the following portion. I argued for not cutting it. Why? Because I wanted some lighter moments in an otherwise fairly dark book. I wanted to "show" Cleopatra Selene's spunkiness. I wanted to make the reader chuckle or at least smile. Here's the scene:
When I awoke in the deepest-dark, I sat up, still burning with outrage that I had been denied such a powerful amulet. I listened for Zosima’s heavy breathing, then slid from my silken couch onto the cold marble, inching my way out into the hallway. I expected Katep to rise from his bench across the hall, but it was empty. Good. He would have tried to stop me.
“Ah!” a voice said. “I was warned to expect this.” A young Roman soldier emerged from the darkness.
“Expect what?” I asked in my formal Latin, proud of my improvement in the language, as I knew it pleased Tata.
“A roaming princess.”
“Oh,” I said, heading in the direction of Mother’s chambers.
“Wait! Princess...” The soldier scrambled in front of me, his sword belt slapping against his thigh, the leather straps of his breastplate creaking. “You must return to your chamber.”
He was not my guard. He could not tell me what to do. I moved to go around him. To my shock, the soldier grabbed my arm. “Go back,” he ordered.
I shook him off. “You may not touch the Princess of Egypt under punishment of mastication or death,” I announced, lifting my chin.
His brows knitted.“What?”
“If you touch me you will be either masticated or put to death,” I said slowly as if talking to a dull-wit. It never occurred to me that my Latin was anything less than perfect.
The soldier raked his hands through his hair, cropped in the Roman fashion straight across his forehead. “And by masticated you mean...?”
“You know. When they make you like a girl.”
The soldier paled and stepped back. "Oh. You mean castrated?"
"That's what I said!" I smiled up at him and continued on.
He did not follow.
It's a small scene, one that became one of my "darlings." When I read it to my critique group, they chuckled. How could she not like it? But her argument--as usual--was sound.
Cheryl: The framework of the book is that a nearly 16-year old Selene is looking back on her life after a traumatic loss; she is gutted and is trying to figure out when her world began falling apart. The conversation with her parents gives us some clues and this scene only delays that conversation.
Me: But I liiiiike it. It's meant to lighten the moment a little.
Cheryl: (Graciously allows it to go through one revision.) But after revision two or three (or twelve?), she comes back to it. The message is clear: It needs to go.
Me: But what about lightening the mood and all that?
Her: Yes, but what has she just done in the opening scene as she recalls this?
Me: She has just buried her twin at sea.
Her: So would she be thinking of lighthearted moments? Would she look fondly upon this little exchange with a Roman soldier?
Me: [Sighing] No.
She was right, of course. It didn't make emotional sense--not matter how "cute" I thought it was. I cut it. This is why editors rock. They keep our stories "honest."
(If this example of editing is at all helpful, let me know. I've got PLENTY of scenes that my editor cut/changed that I can share!)