Deleted Scene: A Bonus Feature from Deep Down True
Ever read a book and wonder what you’re NOT seeing—what additional scenes might have ended up on the author’s “cutting room floor”? In the service of pacing, plot, character development or just getting the word count down, every author cuts. And those cuts can hurt! Passages that seemed so critical when they were first written can swiftly become collateral damage in the struggle to revise.
DEEP DOWN TRUE went through a wonderful, necessary and, at times, painful editing process in the quest to reveal the best parts of the story. I learned so much about how to chip away at the extraneous parts, and I’ve been able to bring those skills forward into the next project.
However, writing is art, and art is nothing if not subjective. What my editor and I might decide the story can live without, some readers might have found illuminating or at least entertaining. We all have our opinions on the best passages of any given novel, and we certainly don’t always agree.
The next time you read a book and feel there were aspects that weren’t completely explored or questions that weren’t fully answered—and you will, because no story can possibly answer every question—ask yourself: “Is this the part that ended up in the author’s recycle bin?”
What follows is my original beginning to DEEP DOWN TRUE. It was abandoned in the interest of getting to the action a little faster. It was a change I agreed with … and yet, I still miss it a little. Feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you think!
Dana had been pretty in high school. “Not cover-of-Seventeen-magazine pretty,” her girlfriends had determined, but attractive enough to enjoy a sufficient quantity of boy attention. The girls all agreed that Dana’s lips were her best asset. Full but not too full, they had an inviting quality, the kind of lips that drew boys she barely knew to appear beside her at parties and, emboldened by cheap beer, say, “I have always wanted to kiss you.”
And if they weren’t too unappealing, Dana often would oblige. It was a sort of friendly service she provided, and the boys, having been kissed, would often murmur their thanks and wander away; she drew the line at kissing.
Those lips had lost their luster over the years. They had shriveled slightly, and now had fine lines striping up and down. Like wood grain, she now thought glancing in the mirror. Lipstick only seemed to highlight their waning allure.
It was disappointing, when she thought of it, which wasn’t too often these days. Dana knew nothing stayed the same. Her figure, for instance, had been perfectly acceptable—preferable to boys who liked curves. But it had expanded slightly with each child who’d engaged her body as a jumping off point into the world. She was Ellis Island, made of flesh, to two such beings. There had been one more which she, and only she, seemed to remember hadn’t had its papers or chromosomes in order to pass through, and so had returned to whatever point of origin its tiny, half-formed body had traveled from.
“I wanted you,” she’d imagine telling this never-born baby if they met one day in some unearthly place, “but I understand. I know how things don’t always work out.”