100 Posts: Deleted December Wrap Up

UntitledThat’s right everyone; I’ve reached 100 posts! It seems crazy that in a few short months I went from having nothing published, to having two books published, a website, a blog and a following. I can’t believe I managed to find 100 things to blog about, or that any one listened, but at 2,500 views, I feel pretty good, especially seeing most of them aren’t from friends and family! (Not that you aren’t great, but I don’t have much by the way of those! Plus, why would they read my blog when I talk their ears off about it, you know 24/7?)

Today also wraps up Deleted December. It will be the last post that shows editing and deleted scenes from my newly published novel, Walking in the Shadows. If you aren’t familiar with it, it’s a Young Adult Romantic Suspense novel. You can check out more about it by clicking the novels title in the menu. I would like to know how everyone felt about Deleted December. If you haven’t read the book, did it prompt you to do so? If you have read the book, did you enjoy the peek into the writing process and at scenes you didn’t get to see?

I would love some feedback on this. I suppose we should get on with it, mhmm?
This particular scene was hard for me to modify because there were things I loved, but in the end some things just aren’t right, and even though we want to make them work, we have to realize, as authors, that they do have to go.

BEFORE:

“Chaucer?” A young man sitting alone across from me asked lowering his own book. He had a managed mess of sandy brown hair and what seemed to be a permanent five o’clock shadow. He had the appearance of a typical “bad” boy, but the sweetness of his smile and his eyes showed otherwise.
“The father of British Literature,” I replied with a smile.
His eyes showed a deep understanding of the unknown and washed everything I was feeling away; leaving me calm in their wake, but pulling me back without repose. He stood throwing his coffee cup in the trash and I signaled for him to sit down. “My name is Tad.”
“Vera,” I said trying to remember to breathe.
“So you enjoy British Lit?”
“That’s where it all started isn’t it?”
“Indeed, I believe you’re correct. I actually just graduated to be a teacher of that exact subject.” He replied sitting and leaning towards me.
“Amherst?” I asked.
“You?” He countered nodding his head with a crooked smile. It was at that moment I knew I was done for.
“Amherst.” I answered failing to mention at that time that it was Amherst High School and that I had not yet attended a day there. I was from the other side of the state where I hoped my curse had been left behind. That had been my first mistake in a line of many. The one person that should have been told everything was missing major gaps of what made me who I was. He thought I was much older than I actually was because of those circumstances that made me different than any other teenage girl. Ones that I had neglected to tell him. I was shot back into the present and he was there in front of me.
“Vera…Are you okay?” Tad’s voice broke my lapse of concentration and I was shot back into the present.
“That’s a loaded question Mr. Knightley.” I snapped my voice much fiercer than I thought it would be.
“Vera…please?” He probed, his voice pained.
I turned and opened my locker, throwing my books in and slamming it shut. “Goodbye Mr. Knightley.” I retorted and I could feel his eyes burning into my back as he stood speechless and silent tears fell down my cheeks.

AFTER:

“Chaucer?” a young man sitting across from me asked; lowering his own book. He had a managed mess of sandy brown hair and what seemed to be a permanent five o’clock shadow; the appearance of a typical “bad” boy.  The unexpected sweetness of his smile and his eyes showed otherwise.

“The father of British Literature,” I replied with a smile.

The way his eyes smiled with his lips washed everything I was feeling away. It left me calm, but pulled me to him with an anxious wanting—one that I had not felt before.  He stood, throwing his coffee cup in the trash and gathered up his books. I didn’t know where the boldness came from, but I signaled for him to sit down.

“My name’s Tad.”

“Vera,” I said as I tried to remember to breathe.

“So you enjoy British Lit?”

“That’s where it all started isn’t it?”

“Indeed, I believe you’re correct. I actually just finished my degree and teaching credentials in that exact subject,” he replied, sitting and leaning towards me.

“Amherst?” I asked.

“You?” he countered, nodding his head with a crooked smile. It was at that moment I knew I was done for.

“Amherst,” I answered, failing to mention at that time that it was Amherst High School and that I had not yet attended a day there. I had only just arrived from the other side of the state where I hoped my curse had been left behind.

That had been my first mistake of many.  In hindsight I realized that I should have told Tad everything, and that he was missing major gaps of what made me who I was. He thought I was much older than I actually was because of those circumstances that made me different than any other teenage girl; ones that I had neglected to tell him.

“Vera…Are you okay?”

Tad’s voice broke me back into the present.

“That’s a loaded question Mr. Knightley,” I snapped, my voice much fiercer than I thought it would be – or should have been.

“Vera…please?” he probed, the voice pained.

I turned and opened my locker, throwing my books in and slamming it shut. “Goodbye,” I retorted, and I could feel his eyes burning into my back as silent tears fell down my cheeks.

ANALYSIS:

The second version is obviously (in my eyes) more refined, cleaner and over all better it’s presented. It shows the mood much better and stresses the interaction via dialogue just the same. I’ve learned that little things can make dialogue much stronger and even inner thoughts much stronger. One of which I’ve already spoken about: the removal of simile and simile-like wording. Similes are basically a cop out, a short-cut when the brain has frozen and as I have matured in my writing I’ve learned what the number one thing is that doesn’t work about them: They don’t make sense. They aren’t probable. Your heart can’t be a steam engine–it can’t even feel like one. Why? Because you have never had a steam engine in your chest, and if you did you are probably as flat as pancake and your heart isn’t beating anymore. It’s best to truly describe the feeling, the tightness of your chest, as if the breath you are taking in is stuck, the metallic feeling in the back of the throat as you bite down the vomit caused by fear. Anything but a steam engine. That’s the main problem with this whole scene. It’s improbable. Yet it was something I had a hard time letting go of. I’m talking of one quote, which I in the end after my editor said “WTF does that mean?” (she didn’t swear at me FYI, but she did use CAPS) was removed because she told me what I already knew. It sounded pretty but made absolutely no sense:

His eyes showed a deep understanding of the unknown and washed everything I was feeling away; leaving me calm in their wake, but pulling me back without repose.

That was the major part of this scene that stuck out to me like a sore thumb. I wanted to work it in; I wanted it to make sense, but really how could she have known that? How did his eyes do that? Is he the ocean and she’s the sand on the shore?? I’ve learned that just because it sounds pretty doesn’t mean it makes sense. I can pack it in my bag of pretty things that I wrote, but will never use. I’ve got plenty of those, but I also have many pretty things that really did make sense and added so much to the scene like this:

I am threatened by the resolve that you are my soul. You are my being, you are every breath I take, you are my home, you are my sweet sin.

I’m fine criticizing myself. It only makes me better as seen above (I hope). Hey, maybe it has some comic relief too, no? Like this drawing I have been amusing myself with:

Simile Zombie thinks author's brains taste like chicken!

Simile Zombie thinks author’s brains taste like chicken!

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5 thoughts on “100 Posts: Deleted December Wrap Up

  1. Nice work on 100 posts. I recently reached that myself. It’s a nice feeling. I think your second version is a lot clearer, well done! My only advice (because I’m a word economizer and I like flow) is to change this: I said as I tried to remember to breathe. To this: I said, trying to remember to breathe. That way you don’t have two I’s in the same sentence right beside each other. And you’ve eliminated 2 additional words. Like I said, word economizer. 😉

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