Sometimes, we write little moments and interactions that we love…but they serve no extra purpose to the overall story. For me, this represents one of those moments:
Ross snorted and laughed in the same breath, at once recalling that afternoon on the beach when he’d been just shy of twenty-one, freshly returned from Torpoint and eager to be a civilian again, free to ride the waves, with Neville sitting beside him in the sand. And how Neville had started to have The Talk with him, only to be interrupted by Ross’s pointed and unconcerned recognition of the reason behind his friend’s mumbling and hawing:
“Are you trying to tell me that you’re gay?” Ross had asked, with some impatience.
Neville had stared at him for a long pause of time, his expression unreadable. Then he’d murmured, quite quietly: “…Yeah.”
Ross had considered that for a moment, then asked: “Do you fancy me?”
“Wh-?” Neville had sputtered, as he’d given a quick shake of his head. “God, no! You’re a breeder…!”
“Well, then, no worries, mate,” Ross had told him then, hitting him in the shoulder with the back of his hand before forcing himself to his feet. “Now, come on; I want to catch some waves before supper.”
And that had been the end of the discussion, so far as Ross had been concerned. Neville was simply Neville; and if his friend being gay meant that Ross didn’t have to compete with him (handsome, stylish, good-guy Neville) for the attentions of any pretty girls in the village, all the better.
So the very thought that their friendship could be about anything more than the mutual platonic interests in their surfing or the shop made Ross laugh again.
I really like the flashback exchange that happens between Ross and Neville, but it’s unnecessary explanation. By the time this flashback occurs, the reader should already know that Ross and Neville are good friends, and each one’s sexual preference has no bearing on that friendship.
Readers are free to read into text what they want, of course, and Ross’s perspective might even be different from Neville’s. But to take valuable reader time to make that explanation seemed like a lot of extra words, no matter how much I enjoyed the flow of them.
Have you ever edited out a scene or conversation that you really liked? Did you agree with that decision? Or, did you regret it?
I’m so used to the Ross in my head having a full beard that I had to force him to be the way you described him. D: I do enjoy the way they talk, though. “Do you fancy me?” Are they Australian, or English, or…?
For me, scenes are rewritten over and over again in my head over the course of a number of days. And when I finally get the chance to put it in writing, it never comes out the way I wanted it to. Or I just completely forget how I wanted, or something changed and I liked the change. It’s like preparing for a fight, where you’ve brought a knife to a gun fight. Then I just end up using what I have. (Wow, me in a gun fight with a knife? Oh wait, I could use that.)
As for the scene, maybe that little flashback of yours could be used to explain to a third party what a good friend Ross is to Neville. Oh wait, but if it’s unnecessary to the reader, then is it also unnecessary to the other characters? I guess that’s where lines like, “Character X explained to Character Y about how the friendship started.”
They’re Cornish, so, yes – southwest coast of England. Nice catch! 🙂
I rewrite scenes from my head to my fingers a lot, too. Sometimes (if I’m think-writing as I walk or am otherwise occupied, away from keyboard or pencil), the words don’t come out right. But, more often than not, I do a lot of repeating in my brain, so at least dialogue will come out close to “right.” Hopefully, you’re finding when you edit that the changes are good ones, or that you can recapture some of that initial spark.
Knives don’t win in gun fights, sadly. Not modern ones, anyway. I’d love it if they did once in a while, though! 😀
I had originally had the flashback take place during a conversation between Ross and Amber, in explanation of the two men’s friendship. But, like I said, it’s unnecessary filler. The main point of the discourse is the relationship between Ross and Amber, not the one between Ross and Neville.
And, I admit that I am planning on giving Ross a bit of a beard at one point. It’s making for a nice character moment…. 😉
I usually have trouble taking scenes out which I like. However, I have learned, with practice, how to spot the scenes that don’t seem to move the story forward. I am sure I am not perfect at it, but I am better.
I keep a file where I save all my cuts, that way I know if I change my mind, or if I want to use it in another piece, I can easily find it. It also doesn’t hurt so much–we spend a lot of time and energy on writing, so cutting words can be very painful!
I like your flashback scene by the way, mainly because it’s right to the point and I was taken by surprise. That’s a good thing!
Spotting unnecessary scenes is a skill I’m only just learning, now. I can spot easily enough those gratuitous scenes that do nothing for the plot flow. But taking out the ones I really enjoy is tough!
Oh, my “unused” file is huge! 😀 In fact, since I work on my manuscript on two laptops (my at-home and my work commute one), I have 2 scrap files. Both of them are at least 60-70 pages in length! (Uploading the working document to my server twice a day is also s nice little backup device.)
I liked the little scene between these two characters, and I’m glad that it works (I kept it short for that reason; another skill I’m learning), but it jostles the reader from “the moment” between the would-be lovers. I couldn’t bear to just outright delete it, though. 🙂
Thanks again for stopping by, Kate. I appreciate it.