Resurrect your darlings: How to recycle deleted material from your manuscript

Why trash your deleted pages when you can publish them?


Make deletions work for you

I admit, my filing system isn’t as tidy as that of my colleagues. I print out paragraphs I’ve cut and thumbtack them to a bulletin board. Entire deleted chapters of my nonfiction and fiction books sit on my computer’s desktop as well as on top of my actual desk. Some would view these discarded pieces as failures. I see them as rich with possibility for publication and a paycheck. I spend an hour each week reading up on new magazines and what editors are looking for and then spruce up my darlings and send them off into the world.

A chapter deleted from my new middle-grade novel will make a terrific short story for a children’s magazine. A section cut from Better with Books is perfect for an op-ed submitted to newspapers across the country.

As my fellow authors point out, it’s wise to save deleted pages and paragraphs, no matter how short. “When the time comes and I want to publish another book,” says Oestreicher, “I have plenty of material.”



Interested in repurposing deleted sections of your book-length manuscript? Check out the following resources: – Includes a searchable database of fiction and nonfiction markets, along with a calendar of upcoming deadlines. Also offers a personal submission tracker. – The “Calls for Submissions” page lists literary magazines and anthologies with editors interested in stand-alone pieces and excerpts. – Allows writers to access calls for submissions from anthology and collections editors, as well as offering them information about literary magazines.


Contributing editor Melissa Hart is the author of Better with Books (Sasquatch, 2019) and Avenging the Owl (Sky Pony, 2016). Twitter/Instagram @WildMelissaHart.