In Her Corner With Vicki Essex’s Deleted Scene

In Her Corner With Vicki Essex’s Deleted Scene

Today, please welcome Superromance writer Vicki Essex, author of In Her Corner. Vicki’s article reminds me of a quote by Logan Pearsall Smith: ‘What I like in a good author is not what he says, but what he whispers.’ I love the way Vicki revised a dynamic scene from her latest book In Her Corner so the words not said fuel the reader’s imagination.

Here’s Vicki!

If there’s one thing I’ve discovered about the craft of writing, it’s that the more I write, the more I learn about how to write.

Paradoxical, I know—after three books, you’d think I’d have it down to science. In fact, with every book, I learn how to be more efficient, planning ahead, predicting my bad habits like overusing certain words, and trying to adjust accordingly.

Unfortunately, in this instance “more efficient” doesn’t necessarily mean faster. Because, let’s face it, writing is rewriting. It’s a seemingly never-ending series of cutting and pasting, trimming and polishing. It’s a lot of gnashing of teeth and talking things out while standing on one foot in your office, hoping divine inspiration will strike and somehow Make. This. Scene. Work.

Sometimes, though, there is no saving a scene. It doesn’t work because it doesn’t belong, it’s too tangential, or it interrupts the flow of the story. There are lots of reasons to cut out a scene, and it’s always worth listening to your editor when he or she suggests an edit.

Take this conversation my hero Kyle Peters has with Fulvio Fiore, my heroine’s grandfather from my latest Harlequin Superromance, In Her Corner. Bella has just suffered a brutal defeat at a mixed marital arts exhibition fight, and her grandfather has called to ream out her and her coach. (The part in question is in bold.)

  His hands flexed into fists. Kyle wanted to take the phone from her and yell at the old man to give her some slack.

            Her tone softened. “Sim…sim…sim, Avô.” She held the receiver toward him. “Fulvio wants to talk to you.”

            He stared at her as though she were offering him a cobra to kiss. He took the phone gingerly and brought it up to his ear. “Kyle Peters.”

            “Peters, you son of a bitch. You’re teaching my granddaughter dog shit.”

            His face flamed. “Sir, I would respectfully disa—”

            “Dog shit!” the man barked. “Not even bullshit. Tiny little Chihuahua dog shit. You know why? Because you taught her so little, it didn’t even show.”

            He sat on the edge of his desk and squared his shoulders.

            “That fight was a joke. You know what people are saying about her? You know what they’re saying about her training? I taught her, Peters. Me and my son and my grandsons. And you. She’s disgraced the family with this loss.”

            Kyle’s ear burned. He thought he could hear someone in the background protesting to the old man, but he couldn’t understand the words.

            “You tell my granddaughter to come home to Brazil right now. She doesn’t need your help. She doesn’t need to fight. And if you keep teaching her this garbage, I will make sure no one ever comes to you for training.” The line cut off before he could get a word in. Kyle’s heart banged in his stomach, frothing the bile within.

            Bella stared at a spot on the floor, fists couched under her armpits.

            “Your grandfather’s a lovely human being,” he said tightly.

            “Don’t take it personally. I’m the one he’s mad at. He’s angry that I lost so badly.”

Originally, I’d wanted to give Fulvio more screen time to show how ruthless and difficult he could be so that his character arc would be much clearer. The harshness of his words to Kyle were supposed to contrast with the words he has for his granddaughter later in the book, and highlight Kyle’s deficiencies as a trainer. It was also supposed to make us wonder: if he talked this way to other men, how did he speak to his granddaughter? My editor, Karen Reid, thought the language and the actual conversation was unnecessary.

Ultimately, I cut the conversation out. I’d set up a lot about Fulvio through the first part of the book, so a brush with him was enough to hint at just how harsh he could be. Bella’s reactions and emotions show the reader what she’s had to deal with.

Here’s the finished scene:

“It’s your grandfather,” Liz said, her face a touch pale.

Bella stilled, and her lips compressed into a tight line. Kyle offered her his office, and she marched in, chin held high.

He didn’t mean to eavesdrop, but he ended up using a table just outside his office to fill out some insurance forms. At first, it seemed like Bella was having a normal conversation with a family member. But since it was entirely in Portuguese, he had no idea what she was saying. Then her voice rose, and her objections came out in harsh syllables. She looked up to see him watching her from the doorway.

Her shoulders were bunched up to her ears, and her face was pale. She held the receiver an inch away from her ear. The stream of abuse pouring from the phone was unmistakably scathing.

His hands flexed into fists. Kyle wanted to take the phone from her and yell at the old man to give her some slack.

Her voice grew rough, defeated. “Sim…sim…sim, Avô.” She glanced at him. “I have to…” Her lips compressed and she gently hung up the phone. She took a deep breath and hugged her elbows. “My grandfather heard about the match. He’s so mad at how bad the loss was that he’s threatened to disown me.”

What we get here is a much quieter scene with a lot more tension. Our imaginations fill in the blanks. None of us like to be yelled at, but imagine what it would be like to hear disappointment and anger from the man who taught you everything you knew, a man you once revered, a man who now looked upon you with scorn and went out of his way to make you feel bad about yourself and your performance.

I was much happier with the cut here. A lot can be said without saying much at all.

 

In Her Corner CoverIn Her Corner Blurb:

Bella Fiore has a lot to prove. For three generations her family has dominated the world of mixed martial arts—a tradition Bella dreams of carrying on. Her family, on the other hand, doesn’t agree. Without their support, she’s relying on the coaching of medal-winning Kyle Peters.

Training with Kyle is not what Bella expects. They’re constantly butting heads. And with the body of a Greek Adonis, Kyle’s mat technique isn’t her only focus. Not that this attraction can go any further. She has a title to win! Yet when Kyle proves Bella can always rely on him, a championship may not be the only thing worth fighting for….

 

Vicki EssexVicki Essex is a romance writer in Toronto. Her third book, IN HER CORNER, is available now from Harlequin Superromance.

You can find out more about Vicki and her books at:

www.vickiessex.com

facebook.com/vickiessexauthor

Twitter: @VickiEssex

Harlequin.com | Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Chapters.Indigo.ca |
BarnesandNoble.com
 | Kobobooks.com

 

film-frames

 

Stay tuned for more editing tips next Friday, April 4th with Ella Quinn!

April 4th – Ella Quinn

April 11th – Deborah O’Neill Cordes

April 18th – Elaine Calloway

April 25th – Jana Richards

 

13 Comments

  1. This really interests me because it applies to every type of writing. So often less has more impact.

    Reply
    • Very true, Martha, and thanks for reading. It’s wonderful how we can all read an article like this and take something different from it.

      Vicki’s article has got me thinking about my manuscript, looking for times when I’ve told the reader too much and missed an opportunity for them to enrich the story with their own take.

      Reply
    • I’m always amazed when I go to a movie and huge parts of backstory are left out, with only the barest hints, and I realize everything I’ve read into it comes from my own imagination.

      Reply
  2. Yes, the second version is a different way to view the abusive phone conversation opting to show its effect only on the person receiving the abuse. And the original version of the conversation was a tad over the top.

    That being said, I would regret missing out on the exchange around the “chihuahua dog shit”. Those lines were inspired and certainly original. Maybe they can be inserted in one of the earlier scenes where we learn about the character’s “forceful/colourful” way of speaking. Or maybe it’s an example of one of those “darlings” you just have to kill to tell the story properly.

    Reply
    • Interesting take, Linda. I liked this discourse too, but I also liked the second version better where everything was not laid out, and the reader’s imagination was provoked.

      Reply
    • Sadly, I couldn’t find another place to use the line. But then, Fulvio could probably have his own book and never run out of things to say. 8 )

      Reply
  3. HI Vicki,
    I love your voice. Your writing is so descriptive that the scene jumps off the page. I have to agree with Linda above. While I love the new scene, the dialog between the grandfather and Kyle was great, especially the line comparing Kyle to chihuahua dog shit. I hope that was reused later in the book somewhere. If not, can I borrow it? LOL

    Reply
    • Hi Nancy, thanks for your comment! I agree, I love the energy in Vicki’s voice.

      Love the dialogue too!

      Reply
    • I will have to save that line for another book entirely, methinks. Though I’m not sure I’ll find anyone quite as colorful to use it with.

      Reply
  4. Whether my own work, or the work of my fabulous critique partners, I’m always amazed that a scene that is sold in its own right can be made stronger. Sometimes, the manuscript is stronger by removing scenes we’d pronounced well crafted. Thanks for demonstrating how the fine art of editing goes so much deeper than checking for typos, Vicki.

    Reply
    • There’s always something to learn when it comes to writing. I will be looking for ways to leave more to the reader’s imagination.

      Reply
  5. Both are powerful scenes. This line you cut, I hope you got to use it elsewhere, because it is powerful. “Kyle’s heart banged in his stomach, frothing the bile within.” Love it! So not cliché!!

    Reply
    • So true, Carole. It’s a great line. With conflict ridden stories, I imagine Vicki will find a place for this line somewhere!

      Reply

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