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.