Sunday, October 9, 2011

Precious Words on the Cutting Room Floor

        How painful it is to cut carefully crafted words! Words that slide gracefully onto the page, beautifully descriptive words, but words unnecessary to the plot and process of the book. Readers of "Love's Second Verse", you barely met Tiffany, the receptionist of InterBank's Personnel head, Mr. Tom Chalmers. Alas, after over-developing dear Tiffany in the first chapter, I never found a way to bring her back into the story. Inspired by the teenage version of my beautiful Texas nieces, she faded into oblivion.
       Small comfort is derived by pasting her into my "Out-takes" folder. From thence I bring her back to life today for a blog post below.
       Writers, what cuts hurt you most? I invite you to put them into a comment or email me directly at and I'll add them to this post. Resurrect the words! Let them see daylight and live!

       And now for Tiffany the receptionist:
The sound of his receptionist Tiffany’s platform shoes advanced on the plush carpet towards his door. Her hair got there first, followed a nanosecond later by her cheerfully painted face with three blended colors of eye shadow. “Hi, Mr. Chalmers. Can I get you some coffee?”
 The coffee setup was in a niche right there off the corridor, so Tom usually fixed his own. Obviously, Tiffany wanted to talk about something. “Thanks, Tiffany. Decaf this late. What’s on your mind?”
Tiffany drained the stale decaf into his cup. It didn’t matter. He wasn’t going to drink it anyway.
“Sorta wondering about that IT job. We got like a whole lot of applicants. Are the interviews going all right?”
“Oh, about the same as any bunch. There are the interviewees who come in with their own agenda, clogging the air with an onslaught of words which may or may not answer the questions. Strange, sometimes, what they think will impress us.”
With furrowed brow, Tiffany leaned against the door jam in a way that bent her hair on one side.  “Did Mrs. Morgan do okay? Remember her, this morning? With the, ah…”
“…splashed suit. I’d say she did well, considering. It probably worked out better for her that she was splashed by Mr. Braddock. I mean, she would have been a fairly ordinary candidate in a large field of finalists. But she came in here and showed us that she could pull herself together and concentrate and do a good interview. She didn’t fall apart, and she didn’t make me wait or ask to reschedule.”
“Was it Mr. Braddock that splashed her?” Tiffany whispered as if a revered figure had been touched by scandal. She eased her long, thin body into the interviewing chair, crossed her legs at the shins and then rocked her platform shoes at an odd angle, looking like a broken doll with too much rouge. Even this late in the day, her cologne-flowers still bloomed.

So, do you have a Tiffany? Or a sunset description that defies the imagination? Perhaps the outline of a subplot that got nixxed. Speak up and feel the relief of letting precious words out of the closet.

1 comment:

Nancy Kimball said...

Oh, I have a Tiffany alright. An entire CHAPTER, LOL. When I first began writing CHASING THE LION, I did all the wrong things in chapter one, though I did them very well, hehe. Chapter one was the reunion between my heroes parents, and the revelation to one of my characters he had a twelve year old son. It was such a beautiful chapter, but alas, after craft study and contesting found out... you guessed it... backstory! One day once Chasing the Lion is published I'll let Livia and Cornelius's reunion be a blogpost or something. Because you're right Lee, they deserve to live!