In this type of clue, a letter (or sometimes a group of letters) is deleted from a word to yield the solution.  If the letter to be deleted is taken from the front, the indicator might allude to this fact by suggesting the word is somehow not started.  If the letter is to be deleted from the end, the indicator might suggest the word is unfinished.  Or if from the middle, the indicator might suggest the word is missing its central letter.  Of course, the deletion can also be signaled more overtly, by stating something along the lines of "The letter B is removed from Bread to show Read".

But the missing letter indications are the most common, so let's look at some of those:

First off:  don't start, beheaded, after the leader, lacking leadership, unopened, uninitiated, losing opener, starting off

Last off: unfinished, almost, mostly, without end, tailless, endless, lacking finish, incomplete, before the last, not fully, for the most part

Middle out:  heartless, losing heart, without the middle, gutless

Sample clue:

Heartless revolutionary to fall back (4)
In this example, the answer is RE[b]EL (REEL = to fall back).  The cryptic instructions tell us to look at rebel (revolutionary) with its middle letter removed (heartless).

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