My story started out like this:
Luke’s troubles began in the golden hour, on his way home from soccer practice, when the sun illuminated every imperfection and somehow turned the most ordinary object into something magical. Not that Luke noticed any of this. Luke loved magic. He just didn’t believe in it, that’s all. His grandmother swore that dragons once existed and all the science in the world couldn’t convince her otherwise. But Luke didn’t buy it. Now, unicorns on the other hand seemed plausible. He figured the ivory-horned creatures probably died out not long before people quit believing in magic. If they had just lasted a few more decades, people would be feeding unicorns at the local zoo. Sometimes Luke would close his eyes and picture the place and it seemed so real to him that it seemed to creep into the area of belief. But, alas, he remembered . . . .
And somewhere along the line, I cut that out. The whole paragraph. I cut out the whole chapter, actually. I re-wrote the beginning three times.
I have two novels I'm writing. The first is for me. It has all those little details that help me know who the characters are. The second is for the boys. It tells them what the characters do.
Sometimes I think authors don't finish projects because they aren't able to let go of those pieces of writing that have nothing to do with the story and everything to do with the character. It's painful to recognize that you wrote it for yourself. It was the first date. It was the interview. But it wasn't the story.