The Cutting Room Floor
We’ve all heard about the Cutting Room Floor–that purgatory-like place where wonderful scenes go to die a death of so-close-and-yet-so-far-away. Maybe you’ve read such scenes in first drafts you’ve been privy to, or possibly an author you follow on Facebook impulsively shared something prematurely that leads you to believe a certain scene will appear in her next book, Montana Maverick. (Sorry, about that.)
Regrettably, not every great idea is a good idea. Feel free to quote me on that.
This is where editors come in. Editors who know and love your work, who share your passion for your characters. Editors who are dumbfounded when you suddenly introduce something that doesn’t quite jibe with your book’s tone. Like say…writing the prologue in the hero’s late daughter’s point of view.
A ghost, you say?
Here’s the prologue that I loved while I was writing it. I cried. I could feel the spirit of Laurel, my hero’s dead daughter, reaching out from beyond to help her family in their time of dire need.
“What you’re planning is very risky. Are you certain this is a good idea?”
“I don’t see any other way for them to meet.”
“What if something goes wrong? There are four children aboard that mechanical beast.”
“That beast is a helicopter. She’s willing to help. My father has been very good to her over the years, and she’s grown weary of this physical incarnation. Her soul is ready to move on.”
Her soul mate let out a long and pensive sigh that probably added to the angst of the storm raging in the atmosphere just beyond the shimmering white line of light. Not below, as most living souls perceive heaven to be, but beside, in a plane not meant to be crossed until the day one’s soul left the corporal body behind for good, as Laurel had done a few months earlier.
But, when souls had unfinished business, as she and Jacob did, exceptions were allowed.
She looked at her other half–the one she’d followed too soon, which had created many problems for their loved ones. Problems that only could be solved by the love of a man and a woman brave enough to defy the odds and join each other on a great and important adventure.
“I can’t do this alone, my heart. Will you help me?”
Jacob had never been able to deny her, except when he died, taking a piece of her soul with him. In lieu of an answer, his love and light enveloped her. Together they breached the membrane. Their combined energy touched the rotating blades of the helicopter–a slight nudge to signal the great metal beast with a giant heart. Some small and seemingly insignificant part shook loose. It made a loud pinging sound as it struck a whirling blade before being tossed into the wind to be lost in the blowing snow.
“Land with care, gentle friend. Thank you.”
The helicopter made a sound that seemed to say, “You’re welcome.”
Its passengers–and anyone awake on the ground–may have interpreted the sound differently.
What happened next was up to the living–the ones Laurel loved more than life.
“At least–we tried,” she told her beloved as they slipped back into the light.
She focused her love a moment longer on the sweet baby she’d barely gotten to hold and love. “They’re in your hands, darling Mystic. Do your best.”
I knew–even before my editor expressed her concern about the scene–that I’d written this for me–not for the book. Meg’s and Henry’s story doesn’t need a helping hand from beyond. These two characters are so strong, so evolved, they could handle anything–even a ghost, but this way, nothing distracts from their journey.
Obviously, the scene didn’t make it into the book, but I’d love to hear your feelings on the subject. Thumbs up or thumbs down to the supernatural? One commenter will receive a Book Girl reader prize. If you picked thumb’s up, I’ll include a backlist book with a hint of paranormal. If you pick thumb’s down, I’ll choose a title without a single hint of the supernatural. Thanks for reading.
Winner to be announced Thursday, February 26th!