Monday, April 29, 2013

Deleted Scenes: Goodbye, Fred!

In a recent post--Does This Novel Seem Crowded to You?--I talked about how to prevent overpopulation in your story. Every character has their job to do. If not, well, goodbye!

When first writing Goodness and Mercy, I created a character to act as antagonist to my protagonist and to give a secondary character a chance at redemption. That character, Fred, is charming with a hint of menace, as you will soon see.

Once I got deeper into the story, I saw that Fred was a complication that muddied the premise. In fact, his presence made the story something very different from my original idea --yes, I was working from an outline--and I didn't want to go there.

No room for sentimentality--goodbye, Fred! Lucy doesn't need a Fake-Ally Opponent. So there!

While some may consider writing the following scene a waste, the process clarified my vision of my story by showing me what I didn't want it to be. And that's a very valuable discovery.

Here's the deleted scene, starring Lucy and Fred.

A flirtatious breeze released a shower of golden cottonwood leaves and played at lifting my skirt. It was all I could do to hold a stack of library books and keep my skirt in place. A truck skidded to a stop on the gravel.

Fred Greaves leaned out the driver's window and smiled his billboard smile. “Did you leave any books at the library?” He shouldered his door open. “Let me help you with those.”

He reached for the books. I stepped back. “I’m fine. It’s not that far, and as long as I’m walking, I’m not reading Nathaniel Hawthorne.”

He looked pained and clenched at his shirt over his heart. “Has Lotti soured you on me already?”

“Ada,” I said and shifted the books.

He laughed. “I thought me and Ada had an understanding.” He mimicked her voice perfectly, “Nothing good comes of idleness, Mr. Greaves.”

I bit my cheeks not to laugh.

He put up his hand. “You’re right not say a word against her.” He gestured at the orchard behind me. “She has spies everywhere. How else can she know everything, unless…do you think she’s a witch?”

Although I ached to agree with him, I didn't dare agree with him. “She’s a good Christian woman.” After all, she attended church regularly and delivered potato casseroles to funerals.

Mr. Greaves motioned and I followed him to the passenger side of the truck. “Come on. Jump in. I don’t bite nearly as hard as those women would suppose. Besides, you’re about to drop your books. The good people of Palisade do not abide the abuse of their library books.”

I climbed into his truck for two reasons. First, two blisters the size of quarters made each step pure misery. This from the new shoes Ada had chosen for me, the kind meant for lumberjacks. Second, Mrs. Greaves said things about Ada I wished I could say straight to her face. Oh, and one more thing. Accepting a ride from Mr. Greaves would put a knot in Ada’s girdle.

“Thank you,” I said as he slammed the door shut and walked back around to the driver's side. I figured Fred to be younger than my father but certainly not a boy and much younger than most of the men I saw around town. The boys hurried off to the war the moment they became eligible. And he sure didn’t look like any of the farmers I’d ever known, not in Wisconsin or Colorado. He still owned all of his fingertips and his fingernails looked nicer than mine. When he smiled, his eyes nearly squinted shut, and I liked that.

Fred caught me watching him and gave me a sideways smile. “Do you want to learn how to drive? I could teach you. Got nothing better to do.”

“I already know how to drive.” I wanted to tell him I’d driven eighty-five miles before the tin lizzy dropped her transmission on the road, but I wasn’t telling anyone that story. Mr. Greaves wouldn't turn a girl in for kidnapping her own brother and sister, but in a town as small as Palisade, one word to the wrong person and everyone would know.

“I’m not surprised,” he said. “You’re an amazing girl. Fact is, you’re more of a woman than a girl, aren't you? I bet there’s a lot of boys giving you a second look over there at the high school. Isn’t that true?”

If I hadn't been loaded down with books, I would have squirmed at his question. Instead, I kept my answer short. “I never noticed," I said, but I had noticed.

“How old are you, Lucy?”

“Sixteen. I’ll be seventeen next February.”

“Now, see, I thought you were older. You carry yourself well.” And he winked.

We sped by our mailbox. “Stop!” I yelled.

The truck fishtailed to a stop and the pile of books slid from my lap. Fred leaned down to gather the books. He smelled of fresh tobacco and aftershave, much nicer than I'd expected of a man who treasured his rubbish pile.

He said, “I was enjoying our conversation so much, I nearly drove right by your house. You’re a very pleasant young lady.” He held my math book to his chest. “You sit right there. Don't move. You’re a lady.” He opened his door and looked back at me over his shoulder. “That’s how you’re to be treated. Stay right there.”

I sat as still as stone until Mr. Greaves opened my door and extended his hand. I'd only seen men do such a thing in movies. I took his hand as I stepped out of the truck. It was strong but soft. My heart fluttered. What was that all about?

He relinquished my math book. “Its the lucky boy who catches your eye, Lucy. Be choosy. You deserve the best. If you ever need anything, I'm usually around. You're always welcome. I keep colas in the icebox.”

This could not be the man Ada had been talking about. “Thanks for the ride, Mr. Greaves.”

“We’re friends now, Lucy. Call me Fred.”

[Author's note: After reading this scene, I wanted to shout, "Lucy! You stupid, stupid girl. Get out of the truck; do not pass go; and never, ever, ever seek Fred out, colas or no." The scene begs for Lucy to do just that and for a totally different story than the story I wrote to be written. You can see why Fred had to go, at least for now.]

Do you save deleted scenes? Have you ever used a deleted scene in another part of the same story or used it in part or as a whole in a new story? I have! Are there other ways to use deleted scenes? Name an author whose deleted scenes you would love to read.


Megan Sayer said...

Ahh Patti, your timing is perfect! (and not just the fabulously early post that turned up unexpectedly :P )
I'm back to thinking about my newest novel at the moment after a few months break (rewriting the old one), and I've realised I don't want to write it. Thankfully the work I've done is all in the planning and development stages, but I've still put a lot of effort into it, and lo. It must go. The story has lost it's heart of wonder, and I need to go rediscover where this original seed that I love so much actually needs to grow.
So there will be, quite soon, quite a lot of deletion going on. Yes, I'll keep it all, because I do.
And I LOVE reading (or watching) deleted scenes. They're my very favourite part of DVDs :) I don't care if I liked the book or not, I wish every book came with a companion volume of craft notes, rewritten areas, plot changes and deleted scenes. I'd read them all.
P.S. I love the excerpt. Your writing makes me happy.

Josey Bozzo said...

I have not written enough of a story to have deleted scenes just yet. I have stalled and not let the scenes out so there isn't an veering off in a different direction, or characters doing things they shouldn't be.
I long for deleted scenes.

Patti Hill said...

Megan: There's tremendous freedom that comes with a refreshed path. You will write with confidence, a brave pirate of words. A real swashbuckler.

I saw that I could post earlier with some tweaking. I don't want you staying up too late on a school night, so this is my gift to you.

Josey: I suggest you create a file in your word processing program titled something like this: [Working Title of Novel] Wonderful Words to Save. This file becomes you depository for those phrases or paragraphs or whole scenes that must go. For me, knowing that the words I've sweated over are still someplace safe, makes it easier to excise. You'll get to that place, Josey. Keep writing!

Susie Finkbeiner said...

Great post! I've used deleted scenes (the good ones) as short stories. The poorly written scenes go to the trash can.

Hm. I would love to see deleted scenes from Dickens...wait, no. I don't think he ever deleted anything (Lit Geek joke). Actually, I'd enjoy seeing Steinbeck's deleted scenes. It would be so interesting to see what he would cut.

Sharon K. Souza said...

Love this post, Patti. Love the deleted scene. Like Megan, your writing makes me happy. I too keep deleted material, but I save mine at the end of my working manuscript, then it's easy to scroll down to check it out from time to time to see if I'm ready to use it. I'd love to see the deleted scenes from To Kill a Mockingbird. While I dearly love Charles Dickens, I agree with Susie, I doubt he deleted anything.

Marian said...

I want to know what have to use this scene somewhere.

Patti Hill said...

Susie: From one Lit Geek to another: Ha! Jonathan Swift had to have great outtakes. I mean, his satire already dances close to the edge. I bet he stepped over the line and his editor had to draw a big, fat red line through some of his darker stuff. Some might argue he missed a few, but I love his courage and creativity, but I digress...

Sharon: How clever to store your scenes close at hand. Maybe I'll try that. It would boost my word count. I'm too embarrassed to say how many words are in my deleted scene file. Oh boy.

Marian: What do you think happens between Fred and Lucy?

Jennifer Major said...

I have an entire Word doc full of deleted scenes. I even have a whole epic/awesome/amazing scene of burning down a mansion, start to finish. Complete with help from the top arson investigator in my province.Thanks to him, I can burn down just about anything.
But it took too much from the story, not to mention word count, even though I had it down real time.
Sigh. I may be able to use it elsewhere.
In a STORY. Relax!

Patti Hill said...

Jennifer: I know. It's hard after you've put that much work into something, and it doesn't see the light of day. I believe that the writing of that scene, the research you did, and the craft you applied will bear fruit. It probably already has.

Marian said...

This scene could go eight different ways. What I think happens is Fred continues a patient campaign to win Lucy's confidence. Lucy realizes Ada was right when Fred attempts to rape her. She surprises him with a kick in the groin and runs. I can see how this storyline or any other involving Fred and Lucy might completely high jack your novel.

Patti Hill said...

Marian: That's what I thought! I also thought he could convince her that he loved her and take advantage of her, but that would shoot the story in another direction as well. As I said, Fred had to go.

V. Gingerich said...

Oh, must it go? Because it's a great scene, and I'd so read on. I'm afraid I'm with Dickens...

Cherry Odelberg said...

Here's the thing about deleted scenes; I was once pushing 70,000 in a novel. I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. Now I have a deleted chapters folder of 30,000 words. The end is nowhere in sight.

I, too, like this little scene (contemplating messaging you privately to see if I have guessed the colorful character you patterned Fred after) and hope you will use it in a short story - with some girl other than Lucy.

Really, what you have accomplished here is making me curious about your novel - and whetted my appetite to read more of your previous works to try my sleuthing skills, reading into every sentence to see if the characters are local :)