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Susie Schnall doesn’t just write fiction (The Balance Project, On Grace.) She also writes for magazines and websites, mostly about family life, health, and wellness. Her writing has been published by The New York Times, The Huffington Post, MariaShriver.com, and others. So you can see why I’ve asked her to contribute to my “deleted scenes” blog. She’s also really sweet and has three kids and never seems to sleep and yet still manages to do all these things! One might say she has both grace and balance. Here’s how she distracts her readers while giving backstory:
1. Why did this sentence/paragraph/dialogue/page – or even character – need to be deleted/rewritten?
It was actually the whole first chapter of my second novel, The Balance Project. Originally as it was written, my narrator Lucy is watching her boss Katherine on The Today Show. My amazing editor, Beth Kendrick, thought that drew the focus away from Lucy and suggested I make her a more active part of the scene. “Give Lucy something to be working on or striving for in this chapter,” she told me. And she was 100% right. I rewrote the entire scene by giving Lucy an impossible task to finish before Katherine’s interview was over and it made the scene much more interesting. It also was a good example of “Pope in the Pool” (from Blake Snyder’s Save The Cat) as it distracted the reader while I was giving them backstory.
2. Whose idea was it to delete/rewrite it/them (agent, editor, spouse, dog)?
Editor, Beth Kendrick.
3. Did you cry when you deleted/rewrote it/them?
I didn’t cry while I rewrote it. But when I first received my developmental edit letter from Beth, it definitely gave me a stomach ache! Once I reread it a couple times, there was nothing in there that was too difficult to do. And all of Beth’s suggestions were spot on and improved the story.
4. Are you happy with the outcome?
Amazon pre-order link for Operation Tenley is here.
There are three things you need to know about Tenley Tylwyth:
- She totes
wantswill be famous.
- She’s so amaze at nail art, I can’t even.
- She’s legit awesome.
- (She gave me this list.)
Caroline Leavitt’s writing makes you feel as though you’ve slipped into a warm bubbling jacuzzi. In Cruel Beautiful World, Leavitt’s sentences melt into one another so effortlessly that before you know it, you’re completely immersed into Lucy’s nightmare and Charlotte’s lost potential. The time is the 1970’s, but it’s also today, tomorrow and forever. Leavitt knows people like a parent knows their child (the good, the bad, and the ugly) yet she never judges. And this is the gift to her readers. We get to make up our own minds about these fragile and lonely sisters while being surprised at their every twist and turn. I believe that is what’s called master story-telling. Which makes Leavitt, and rightly so, a master story-teller. I loved this book.
My friend Tobie’s book EMERGE is out! Dive in, I promise there will be a cute guy to save you.
Welcome to the first post in Deleted Scenes! Today, I am interviewing myself (weird, I know, but I promise there are way more impressive authors to come) about scenes I deleted from my book, Girl Unmoored.
One of the questions I get from my readers is: “Why didn’t you show Apron’s mom anywhere in the book?”
I had to cut all the scenes out.
This scene was on page 129 of one of the first drafts of the novel, Girl Unmoored, which used to be called, Apron.
I dropped my pogo stick and headed down to the rocks. It looked like it had rained seaweed last night, and little black birds were bobbing up and down in the water. Birds were the luckiest people on earth. If God said, Apron, you can be anything you want the next time around, I’d be a bird. Then I would look down at the world, watching people be sad or happy, but not knowing which one was which because I was a bird.
Sea Glass Cave isn’t on the map. You just have to find it by accident.
“Don’t get lost in the fog, girls,” my mom warned us the day we found it, jumping from rock to rock, and disappearing into the thick white air. Rennie kept trying to keep up with us but her legs were too short and once in a while she had to bend over and crawl. I was a better leaper than Rennie but I made sure to stay behind her in case she fell and cracked her head and we couldn’t find her and I had to tell Mrs. Perry sorry, but her legs were too short to keep up.
And that was when I found Sea Glass Cave, which disappears at high tide. But at low tide, the floor is full of old china pieces and soft glass. When I found it, I yelled up to my mom and Rennie, but no one answered. So I filled my pockets with pieces of blue and green, white and yellow, only once in a while red. Still, no one answered when I yelled through the fog. Worry bit me in the stomach. I imagined Rennie falling into the water and pulling my mom down with her. So I ran home, little beanbags of sea glass socking me in the leg every step. In the kitchen, I picked up the phone to call for help, but then I heard the high whiz of the drill from the pantry. And when I walked in, the two of them were standing close enough to touch arms.
“Apron,” my mom greeted me, glancing up from the drill. “Rennie found four perfect sand dollars.”
“Perfect,” Rennie repeated, still stuck to my mom.
“You guys left me.”
My mom tipped her head. “Sorry. We were so excited about the sand dollars. What did you find?”
“Nothing” I said, because even though red is the top of the line in sea glass, nothing beats a sand dollar.
Whose idea was it to delete/rewrite these paragraphs (you, or your agent, editor, spouse, dog)?
An editor I was working with, who subsequently had to pass on the book (I nearly died), wanted 100 pages cut! That meant flashbacks with Apron’s mom had to go.
Why did these paragraphs/pages need to be deleted/rewritten?
Flashbacks can be very useful in delivering necessary exposition, but they can also drastically slow the pace of the story. In this scene, I wanted Rennie to compete with Apron for Holly’s affection. This was another way Apron was going to realize her friendship with Rennie was over. I also adored the Sea Glass Cave setting, which actually exists in the cliff rocks where I live in Maine.
Did you cry when you deleted/rewrote them?
So hard. I tried to sneak some flashbacks of Holly into a subsequent draft, but again, I found it slowed the story too much. All that is left of her is the photo Apron brings to Chad.
Come back and visit Deleted Scenes again soon!